By Robert Field
It doesn’t surprise us that the Lancaster City government under Mayor Rick Gray and Director of Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization Randy Patterson have studiously ignored the impending threat to the city’s largest tax payer, the Park City Mall.
It does give us a glimmer of hope when LNP, the Lancaster newspaper, ran an article today entitled “6 eerie dead malls in Pennsylvania.”
This occurred on the same day that the New York Times devoted a full page and a half to “An Ode to Shopping Malls; Farewell, pleasure palaces of days past. A filmmaker’s series chronicles a way of life as it reaches its end.”
The Times article states “ A report issued by Credit Suisse in June predicted that 20 to 25 percent of the more than 1,000 existing enclosed malls in America will close in the next five years.”
The proliferation of shopping centers surrounding the city but outside its taxing jurisdiction has created a grave threat to Park City, built in 1971 and renovated and updated over the years.
It was only due to the need for the mall to connect to city sewer and the general consensus among city and county leadership to its threat to downtown Lancaster that provisions were made to incorporate the property into the City’s limits.
Gray, who is coming to the end of this third term, has failed to use the mayor’s ‘bully pulpit’ to explain the dangers of commercial zoning proliferation to suburban communities, the county planners, and the public. As a result major tract after major tract has been rezoned, bringing on immense competition.
Nor can we recall LNP speaking out editorially concerning the dangers.
In addition to the ongoing development of ‘big box’ shopping centers, Internet shopping is eroding the business of most retailers. (It amazes us to see major shopping centers being built.)
As NewsLanc has warned over the years, a deterioration of Park City could come quickly as anchor department stores and branch chain stores close or move.
The city has lacked proper direction, committing its residents to a quarter of a billion dollars of guarantees and gifts for the ill conceived Convention Center and the Marriott hotel. Problem is they have continuously missed opportunity after opportunity to encourage private investments rather than tax boondoggles at the expense of tax payers for cronies.