Friday, February 8, 2008

Local Opinion

Harrison Square will help downtown
Link (NS)

"It must have seemed too good to be true; bigger developments than we could have imagined, shopping malls with national chains, super-sized homes our parents never dreamed of. People moved out of the city in droves because, well, they could. Turns out it was too good to be true.

I'm a bit of a downtown guy, and people talk to me often about downtown. I've noticed that people a generation ahead of me talk a certain way about the Harrison Square development - especially the sale of the condos. They are very dubious about the chance of them selling: even more dubious about the “refundable deposit” required to reserve them."


"Here's the deal: The condos are going to sell - fast. Prosperity has brought us isolation. Some older folks miss the sense of community of their youth that they hope downtown will bring back, and younger folks don't see a house in the “burbs” as “all that and a bag of chips.” It's pretty handy that kids coming out of college today are generally less money-hungry than their predecessors were, because it's not likely they are going to have as much. It seems to me they are more relationship-oriented, and I sense they are likely to want to live more simply and hang out with neighbors - this means urban. This means walk to the store. This means have one car. Stuff like that.

If I am right about the ballpark condos selling fast, it has great implications for downtown. The main result will be that developers will immediately (and I hear already are) turn their opportunistic eyes in an unlikely direction - downtown.

Look, they're almost out of work anyway, after a major slowdown in sales, downtown development will get its creative juices flowing, banks will be glad to try something new and city government will be salivating to help them. They will all be betting on something that doesn't look so risky anymore thanks to a key real estate technicality that has been missing downtown for a long time: “comparable sales.”"
Preserve Calhoun Street trees
Link (JG)
"If the City Council should consider this again, let’s hope it can be done without removing all of the beautiful 40-foot linden and locust trees along Calhoun. These two blocks are outstanding – with a green canopy of trees and outdoor dining, it is reminiscent of a European street.

One of the problems encountered before in making Calhoun two ways is accommodating delivery vehicles. There are a number of different possibilities to handle this – and still save most of the trees. There are alleys that could be used, and both Wayne and Berry streets have four lanes, which would permit around-the-corner parking for delivery purposes.

It takes many, many years to grow these 40-foot trees. Let’s not destroy two of the nicest blocks in the city."