Collinsville leaders have a grand vision for the west entrance to the downtown business district. They see a park, a relocated historic home and upscale development to replace a warehouse and an apartment building.
But they overlooked a huge roadblock to this project: the long-term lease at the warehouse held by Stone Wheel auto parts distributor.
And so this fast-track project — the historic home was going to be moved by spring 2013 — remains on hold 2 1/2 years after the city bought the old warehouse and apartment building.
There was no hint of possible trouble in January 2012 when the city approved the purchases. No one is kicking anyone out,” community developer Paul Mann said at the time. “Everyone will be better off than they currently are.”
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Well, Stone Wheel obviously doesn’t think it’s better off right now. The company has yet to find new location despite the pushing and prodding of the city. Even the city’s steps toward eminent domain — basically kicking out Stone Wheel — hasn’t speeded things along. The company’s copresident said the city can go right ahead: “That puts it in the hands of a judge, and we might be better off.”
Unfortunately the taxpayers might not be better off. Forcing Stone Wheel to move could cost the taxpayers a whole lot more than expected.
Maybe the council members still would have voted to proceed had they seen the roadblock. But at least they would have been leading with their eyes wide open.