If "blighted" areas could be turned into showcase shopping malls or industrial parks at a cost that made sense, why would private investors not do it and make money on the deal?
Are investors just not as smart as government bureaucrats? Or is the difference that investors are spending their own money and stand to lose big time if the costs exceed the benefits?
To "redevelopment" agency bureaucrats costs are just things to conceal with lofty rhetoric and creative book-keeping. After all, it is only the taxpayers' money.
Where do all the customers and all the money that they spend come from to create what the San Francisco Chronicle calls "thriving destination spots and commercial districts"? They come from other places.
In other words, we are not talking about creating wealth. We are talking about transferring wealth from one community to another, with no net increase-- and doing so at a cost of billions of tax dollars.
Years ago, John Kenneth Galbraith argued that there was not enough government spending, compared to private spending, because private businesses advertised and the government does not.
Nobel Prizewinning economist George Stigler pointed out that the government advertises all the time-- only it is not called advertising. So-called "news" stories like those in the San Francisco Chronicle repeat the party line of government bureaucrats and serve it up to the public as information, rather than ads.