To the editor:
This letter is in reference to the plan by M.D. Management to develop the corner of 27th and Iowa Streets. The plan calls for the city to grant tax abatements through 2020 to attract an Olive Garden restaurant to that location.
This property has been left unattended since the Plum Tree vacated the property in 2008. The Plum Tree revitalized its new location on Sixth Street with no public money. The 27th and Iowa location has become blighted due to a lack of general maintenance. M.D. Management has claimed that the only way to attract an Olive Garden to Lawrence is through city tax incentives. This seems most inappropriate in light of the school district currently closing schools and laying off teachers and the city considering raising the mill levy on homeowners to make its budget.
Small, locally owned restaurants have never been given such tax incentives, and it would seem unfair and unnecessary to give such incentives to an Olive Garden, which is part of the largest full service restaurant company in the world. They need to pay their own way, as everyone else has done.
MD Management claims that the Olive Garden will bring new jobs and tax dollars to the city. However, they will only shift jobs and tax dollars from other established chain and locally owned restaurants, with no net gain to the city. The city needs to carefully evaluate the precedent they will be setting should tax incentives be granted.