City leaders have spent millions of dollars in recent years to acquire and prepare land in the downtown area for private development.
What do Pete Buttigieg, Wayne Curry and Patrick Farrell -- the three candidates running to be South Bend's next mayor -- think of the practice?
"I don't think the city should be in the real estate business," said Buttigieg, a Democrat. "I do think that there are moments where the city has to become involved in order to either save a property that's in danger or consolidate ownership of a property so that it can be developed."
Buttigieg points to the former site of Captain Alexander's Wharf restaurant, south of Colfax Avenue on the east side of the St. Joseph River.
"When you see something like that Wharf site, which has been a sandbox for as long as I can remember, somebody needs to lead and get that thing on the market," he said. "If that takes involvement by the city, that could be worth it."
Curry, a Republican, said the city essentially has been buying property and giving it away to private developers. He said it's appropriate for the city to provide infrastructure or tax abatements as a reward for investment, but developers should buy their properties at the market's price.
"I think that's unfair to the taxpayers, it's unfair to the neighborhoods," he said. "It's not a good way to do business."
Farrell, a Libertarian, said the city should acquire property only if it will be used for the public good. City involvement would be appropriate, for example, to develop medical facilities, he said.
"I would let the people decide," he said. "We're not in the real estate business. The government is not supposed to be in private enterprise."Staff writer Kevin Allen: email@example.com 574-235-6244