OUR VIEW: Concept looks great, but Palace plan hinges on fundingWe were thrilled by the Corn Palace expansion and renovation concepts unveiled Monday night. Especially exciting was the “corn tower” observation deck idea, which would give tourists a spiral staircase or elevator up to the top of the Corn Palace.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
We were thrilled by the Corn Palace expansion and renovation concepts unveiled Monday night.
Especially exciting was the “corn tower” observation deck idea, which would give tourists a spiral staircase or elevator up to the top of the Corn Palace, where they could enjoy the view and a leg-stretching break from the road.
It’s a unique, visionary idea we haven’t heard before, and it would give the Corn Palace something it’s sorely needed for years: an activity for tourists beyond looking at the corn murals.
The other ideas are great, too, including a reconfiguration of the arena that would add seats, the conversion of the attached City Hall building to an exhibit space, additions to the complex that would provide better support rooms for events, a national competition to design some of the corn murals, and inviting green spaces around the Palace.
We hope some or all of the plan comes into being.
“Hope” is the operative word. That’s all we have right now, because we know very little about how city government, which owns and operates the Corn Palace, would pay the estimated $35 million cost to implement the vision.
We can deduce from past experience with a failed arena proposal and from our own recent reporting that the funding mechanism could be some combination of city-issued bonds, higher property taxes and a Business Improvement District. A BID would involve businesses that might benefit from the Palace project voluntarily imposing a tax on themselves to help pay off the project.
Of course, the cost and the funding mechanism depend on how much of the vision is implemented, and whether it’s implemented all at once or in pieces over a number of years.
And then there are the extra costs to consider. The officials who unveiled the vision Monday acknowledged that the $35 million cost estimate does not include such costs as the acquisition and clearing of property for green spaces. Also, officials said, $1.7 million would be added to the cost if the project were split into three consecutive phases, due to rising costs over time.
So, while we’re very supportive of the creative concepts we’ve seen, we know our elected officials will have to be equally creative in devising a funding plan, and we wish them the best of luck in that endeavor.