I read this article about Alan Ehrenhalt’s assessment of the city development efforts with a great deal of confusion.
There’s already a plan for North Main (see this large — 16MB — pdf for the final plan from 2008), and I think that plan is actually chock full of potential for housing. Three hundred units’ worth. So, when Ehrenhalt says that “city officials should work to ensure there’s enough housing stock available for individuals eager to move downtown,” I believe he has no idea what he is talking about. (Now, one might argue that the city needs to have a bit more discussion about affordable housing, and whether the kinds of housing that have been proposed in this area are right for whatever it is we’re envisioning for that space, but Ehrenhalt didn’t seem up on those plans.)
Ehrenhalt also talked about how “it’s important to streamline the permitting process for builders.” (quote from the article, not a direct quote) In fact, we have had an expedited permitting process for PharmaSphere (see p. 9 of this pdf) and we’ve thrown a lot of money their way; let’s see how well that works out.
I also wasn’t convinced that the CSX comment (it’s not a “great” idea) was anything but a throwaway; was he aware of the potential for commuter rail improvements that might result (though I remain skeptical about them), or the fact that “cafes, restaurants and small boutiques” really don’t fit in with where the freight yard will be?
To his comment that “It’s the developers that create cities, not the city planners”, I can only hope that there’s a caveat excluding Young Park from the list of developers. (Also, if it’s the developers that create cities, then why should the city officials make sure there’s enough housing downtown? Shouldn’t the developers be taking care of that?)
I would rather the Research Bureau introduce speakers who are actually familiar with this city, and who can speak intelligently about the plans already in place, rather than someone who does a drive-by every dozen years with a bunch of generic proposals.