One of Richard Benda's final public projects was convincing the Lake County Commission to give a tax handout to his employer Lloyd Companies' housing project in Madison. In homage to Benda's crony capitalism, the Madison City Commission is following up with another housing handout. At Monday's meeting, the city commission approved a third tax increment district for Madison, this time to help Brenda Thompson build 14 townhome units on Northeast Third Street.
Given the experience of Benda/Lloyd last year and Regent and real estater Randy Schaefer in 2007, it appears that no developer can afford to build housing in Madison without government cutting their expenses by applying their taxes to paying off construction instead of supporting public works... which is funny, because supposedly we're building these houses because there's such great demand due to Global Polymer and other employers moving into town.
Are market forces really not enough to get developers to invest in housing in Madison? Or is Madison simply suffering from the same disease that ultimately felled Richard Benda, the idea that public economic development efforts are just one more way to help your rich friends get richer?