I don't dislike John Hinnant - he's been dealt a bad hand.
But down town is at a cross roads - and hampered by a lingering recession (among other things).
When Almont Shipping went belly up we lost the last vestiges of a working water front.
What has replaced Almont on the waterfront? Just think of 2 buildings - PPD (The Crystal Cathedral) and the Convention Center. Gleaming with glass - spit and polish - meeting all the latest codes.
Yet a block away we have loads of historic buildings protected by a commission (or two) because of some misplaced sense of historic significance.
What is it do we want for this area? A gleaming new modern ball park? The ONLY way it will happen is privately (like PPD).
But a block away you have empty storefront space.
If I'm a retailer I'm thinking "I'd LOVE to build down town - from the bottom up but I can't because the Historic Preservation Society won't let me tear down that old building to build a new one."
But if I'm a bar owner type person I look and say "It wouldn't take much to put a bar in here - tile floors, a small upgrade to the electrical and plumbing and I'm in business."
If I'm a restaurant type guy "Well, I gotta upgrade the wiring to at least 220VAC and 3 phase for some stuff. Gotta have fire suppression for the fryolators - and watch the ceilings. And I have to maintain the old facade of the building for historic reasons."
Its funny how open land down town gets a LOT of interest then I (and others)rail against the businesses failing in the older buildings. But go to demolish one and yikes you run afoul of preservationists.
No it's NOT John's fault.
But we have to really think about what down is and what we want it to be. If that means tearing down whole sections to attract upscale businesses - so be it.
Quaint is good, but it does hamper economic development. I just dislike people who constantly cheer lead and make excuses for what the real problem is.
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