Thursday, January 10, 2008

Local Opinion

Letters to the editor
Link (NS)

"Let the market work

The more things change, the more they stay the same. How true.

Back in the '80s, when the Grand Wayne Center was being built, the city wanted to use the Embassy auditorium as its principal space for plenary sessions of conferences and conventions. They proposed doing so by sticking a bridge into the face of the Jefferson Street facade of the theater. This was headed off by, instead, building a terminus for the bridge on the east side of the theater, which had the additional advantage of providing some much needed new space on its first floor.

So now, history is repeating itself with a scheme to stick a bridge into the west facade at the behest of the new hotel in Harrison Square, whose developers don't want the placement of this bridge to visually detract from the appearance of their new building. Any alterations to the building have to be approved by the staff of the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology and the State Historic Preservation office. The same sort of covenant is in place on the Allen County Courthouse, and it has headed off several well-intended but poorly conceived renovations in the past. So why not in this case? Don't misunderstand; I think Harrison Square will be of benefit to the downtown, which could use a shot in the arm in the way of retail and housing (much of which need was created in the first place by the explicit policy of the Redevelopment Commission in the '70s and '80s that the future of the central business district lay in encouraging its conversion into an area primarily devoted to offices and only such retail and housing activity as that would support).

How many people now remember the Midtown Crossing Project touted as the solution to the same problems in the late '80s? Or the construction of the Travelodge hotel directly behind the Embassy on Harrison Street in the early 1960s? It is hard not to conclude that government, with its lack of institutional memory or consistency, shouldn't just get out of the way and let the market work."


John B. Kalb said...

Although Craig and I have had our disagrements in the past on other topics, it looks like we do share some thoughts about the methods that are being used to ram some of the Harrison Square items down our collective throats. Thanks for your letter, Craig. John B. Kalb