Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "developer" ...

  • Data Center Dud

    This report uncovered the story behind a $1 billion data-center proposal at Rowan University in New Jersey that officials rejected before the public learned of it. The Rowan project failed in 2011, and the reasons why later became relevant in Delaware, where the state's largest university was weighing a nearly identical plan from the same developers -- complete with a 279-megawatt, gas-fired power plant, and backed by top Delaware politicians and $7.5 million in public funds.
  • Oheka Castle Shooting

    When Gary Melius was shot in the head in a botched assassination attempt on the grounds of the massive castle he calls home, the mysterious event led to a Newsday examination of the politically-connected real estate developer’s many business dealings. Using public records and on- and off-the-record sources, reporters in the weeks to come uncovered a labyrinth of intrigue surrounding one company in particular: Interceptor Ignition Interlocks, which produced devices designed to curtail drunk driving and had won lucrative government contracts. The series of stories immediately following the assassination attempt captured the attention of all of Long Island by revealing complex, meaningful and news-breaking exposés concerning Long Island’s power brokers and public officials.
  • Obama Aide, Daley Pal Cash In On Chicago FBI Building Project

    The FBI is paying about $280 million in rent and operating expenses over 14 years for a 10-story Chicago office – more than double what it cost to build the structure. What's more, politically connected developers made big money on the deal. Among the beneficiaries: Penny Pritzker, a top campaign fundraiser for President Obama who later appointed her U.S. Commerce secretary.
  • Building debt: $2 billion in bonds approved in districts formed by developers

    The story is about a series of obscure government agencies that are quietly building up more than $2 billion in debt in Denton County, Texas. The county ranks fifth among Texas counties with 62 and first in North Texas of the little-known special water districts, a type of government entity used by developers to finance infrastructure for residential and commercial developments. The story reveals how the districts debt and numbers proliferated after the state decided to halt related investigation and they deemed the investigations a waste of government resources.
  • “China’s Real Estate Mogul” and “China’s Real Estate Bubble”

    This two-part report peers into China’s opaque economy through the windows of its gleaming new skyscrapers to reveal seemingly polar realities. On one hand, we look at the promise of the “new China” by profiling commercial real estate developer Zhang Xin, whose journey from a Maoist reeducation camp and sweatshops to becoming one of the richest women on earth is a metaphor of China’s rise from the backwaters of Communism to, as some put it, “Capitalism on steroids.” It’s the American dream lived out in Beijing. Xin’s buildings are modern shrines to Capitalism and globalism – statements of how China is opening up to Western ideas. But with financial gain comes a yearning for more. In a surprising moment, Xin publicly challenged her country’s leaders on our air, saying the current political system inevitably must be replaced by democracy: a rare and brave statement to make in such a forum.
  • The Fenimore Fumes

    A series of reports, aired over a period of months, exposed serious problems related to a redevelopment project at the Fenimore Landfill, resulting in a state takeover and a new law changing how remediation projects are handled in the future. The investigation found that dangerous fumes were being released, putting thousands of residents at risk; that the project may not have been necessary; that new homes were built adjacent to a leaking toxic site without proper disclosures to buyers; that the project was entrusted to a convicted felon (contrary to state law) who had bribed public officials in a project; and that the entire project was based on illegal contracts as the man who signed them claiming to be the developer owned neither the property not the development company.
  • Mello-Roos: The tax you choose

    This multi-media, interactive series is about a special tax Californians pay without thought or question. It amassed $200 million last year in San Diego County. There are loose spending guidelines, but it is a virtual ATM for local governments. The Mello-Roos tax -- named after the two legislators who created it -- takes a vote of one person, most often a developer, to enact. Accountability is almost nonexistent. inewsource spent a year peeling back the layers of Mello-Roos in a way that had not been done in the 30 years that the tax existed. We gathered tax data on nearly one million properties in San Diego County, mapped it and made it interactive so homeowners could participate in the quest for accountability. We pored through thousands of pages of invoices to follow the spending. We filed dozens of public records requests. Our investigation revealed mistakes in tax bills (some homeowners paying as much as $6,000 a year too much), systemic inequities and lack of oversight. Our work launched a city audit (ongoing), exposed a school district’s inappropriate use of funds, and prompted that same district to launch a website for homeowners so they could verify the accuracy of their tax bills. Most importantly, the series spurred homeowners to take action, demanding answers and transparency from their elected officials.
  • Deals for Developers, Cash for Campaigns

    D.C. routinely awards real estate subsidies to encourage development but there has been little scrutiny of them and plenty of questions. For instance, how much have the subsidies cost taxpayers over time and are they really needed when the city has one of the country’s hottest real estate markets? The reporters examined thousands of pages of city documents on 110 developments receiving city subsidies in the past decade and nearly 100,000 campaign contributions for council, mayoral and other local races over that time. The investigation found the city awarded $1.7 billion in subsidies in the past decade — and more than a third went to ten developers that donated the most campaign cash over that time. A dozen developers spent the most campaign cash the year their subsidy was approved and there were 10 dates in which three or more companies developing a project together donated to a single candidate on the same day. What’s more, less than five percent of the subsidies went to the city’s poorest areas with a fourth of the city’s population, and developers failed to deliver on pledged public benefits for at least half the projects examined.
  • Deals For Developers

    A WAMU investigation found the D.C. City Council awarded $1.7 billion in real estate subsidies to 133 groups in the past decade — and more than a third of the subsidies went to ten developers that donated the most campaign cash over that time. What’s more, less than five percent of the subsidies went to the city’s poorest areas with a fourth of the city’s population, and developers failed to deliver on pledged public benefits for at least half the projects examined.
  • Deals for Developers, Cash for Campaigns

    Construction cranes can be seen throughout Washington, D.C. Less visible are the symbiotic relationships between land developers and city officials awarding tax breaks and discounted land deals. Those government subsidies are meant to revive neighborhoods, and to create jobs and affordable housing. But in some cases, the benefits never materialized, or the subsidies simply weren’t needed. And what began as a targeted economic development tool now looks to some like government hand outs that could have paid for other city services. A WAMU investigation found the D.C. City Council awarded $1.7 billion in real estate subsidies to 133 groups in the past decade — and more than a third of the subsidies went to ten developers that donated the most campaign cash over that time. What’s more, less than five percent of the subsidies went to the city’s poorest areas with a fourth of the city’s population, and developers failed to deliver on pledged public benefits for at least half the projects examined.