I watched Council last night about the new RFP for the commercial space and how there would be up $250,000 in loans available to the winning bidder to do the build-out. Not sure if I like this idea.
Let me explain, We have done this twice at Union Station and both restaurants failed owing the City of Worcester money. True, both have been replaced by realtively (I think) successful new businesses. Does anyone know how much money is owed, however, on these prior loans? Did the new tenants take over payments? I do not know the answer to either.
Councilor Palmieri suggested that the loan was good and would help spur economic activity. I agree, the loan does spur economic activity so why not offer to any business looking to do a build out? The reason we are doing these loans for Union Station and the Major Taylor parking garage is because these are city assets and the city is trying to get tenants to help pay down their debt. Imagine the commercial spaces for the Union Station parking garage will be next.
In the end I do not think the City of Worcester should be giving out loans to businesses to do build-outs, just like we should not be in the airport business. Micro-loans for facades/storefronts should be the extent of the City of Worcester's lending portfolio.