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Development now or value later?

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#1
I recently read an article about a new development in a city where I have done a great deal of work. The community development director was quoted gushing about a new development project. This would be low-income senior apartments, part built by the housing authority and part by a private developer. They would be built on a redevelopment site on the river.

This is a nice location. As I mentioned, it is on the river, at the edge of downtown, and adjacent to a park. You would be right if you thought it could command some high value condominium development. In fact, there was a proposal for the site before the economy tanked. There is not that much demand now, but there will certainly be at some future time. I cringed when I heard that the City approved the low value development. It is a long term wasted opportunity to bring much needed high density, owner occupied, hagh value residential uses into the river corridor. Instead there will be low income seniors who will not have the same impact in spending at nearby businesses, encouraging investment in redevelopment, adding higher income residents in the neighborhood, and creating valuable property to add to the tax roll.

It is simply a case of doing what you can now, rather than saving your best opportunities for a time when the market can support the best use. I wonder if the same thing is occuring in other communities.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
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#2
All the time. One thing I've noticed during and post-recession is that elected officials have become far more short-sighted--an achievement considering short-sightedness was already an epidemic among local government elected officials before. The other thing I've noticed is that planning departments in some cases, like this one you cite, have become cheerleaders for projects that we wouldn't so much as fart in the general direction of a few years ago. Based on my experiences, this is the result of political pressure on the departments to not in any way, shape or form be seen as an impediment to anything with the 'economic development' label attached, no matter how inaccurate that label may be.

Of course that is a sore spot for me since my TOWN NEXT DOOR's economic development director sent a press release about an IHOP coming to town and that it was "just the kind of economic development we're looking for." I cringed when I read it, and am thankful that my city, despite its inperfections, at least understands the difference between growth & economic development and has some capability for longer-term vision.
 

ColoGI

Cyburbian
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#3
I wonder if the same thing is occuring in other communities.
One thing I've noticed during and post-recession is that elected officials have become far more short-sighted--an achievement considering short-sightedness was already an epidemic among local government elected officials before. The other thing I've noticed is that planning departments ...have become cheerleaders for projects that we wouldn't so much as fart in the general direction of a few years ago.
I think we all have examples in our town or the next one over like this. I left a place because the short-sightedness was starting to be done behind my back and the citizens were being misled about it; the subdivision I worked on for 18 months wasn't finalized, and it became craptacularized very soon after I left. It's human nature and decent leadership is in short supply.
 
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#5
I recently finished what several have said is a very innovative and forward-thinking comp plan for a client and right as we were wrapping up, they approved one of those 20+ pump gas stations on the most prominent corner in the city.

It was heart-breaking.
 

boiker

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#6
What authority to planning departments have when plans and ordinances support these low(er)-quality uses over the "highest and best" use for the property? I'd hate to see a gas station on an high-profile, valuable corner, but if the codes allow it and they meet code how can the department tell someone no?
 
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#7
Two things (without getting into specifics):

1. There was ED funding at play.

2. A zoning change was required. P&Z could have tabled til the plan was adopted (at which point the new zoning wouldn't have been in accordance).

Really, #1 was the disapointing part.
 

Tide

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#8
I was at a roundtable with regional stakeholders a few weeks back and one of them said something along the lines of "development is like drugs, it feels good for a few years, then all you are left with is the problems". I believe this was more in response to sprawling type developments but this lesson could be applied many ways. Once our cities will address long term costs instead of the short term monetary gain we'll all be better off.
 
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#9
Gas Station Approval

Can you tell us the size of the roads at this major corner? I recently dealt with the same type of issue at the corner of a U.S. Highway and major 6-lane county road. The property was previously a car sales use and was in bankruptcy. It backed up onto a beautiful lake surrounded by residential uses. The City Manager wanted the site to used for residential condominiums. However the property was already zoned for general commercial and market advisers opined that given the nature of road network residential would never work even though the property had great lake views. Traffic counts and road design really dictated that the property be used for a highway commercial use. The project was approved with heavy landscape requirements and the requirement that project include a piece of public art. It may become the best looking Wawa gas station in the state. We'll see when it's finished.
 

TOFB

Cyburbian
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#10
I recently read an article about a new development in a city where I have done a great deal of work. The community development director was quoted gushing about a new development project. This would be low-income senior apartments, part built by the housing authority and part by a private developer. They would be built on a redevelopment site on the river.

This is a nice location. As I mentioned, it is on the river, at the edge of downtown, and adjacent to a park. You would be right if you thought it could command some high value condominium development. In fact, there was a proposal for the site before the economy tanked. There is not that much demand now, but there will certainly be at some future time. I cringed when I heard that the City approved the low value development. It is a long term wasted opportunity to bring much needed high density, owner occupied, hagh value residential uses into the river corridor. Instead there will be low income seniors who will not have the same impact in spending at nearby businesses, encouraging investment in redevelopment, adding higher income residents in the neighborhood, and creating valuable property to add to the tax roll.

It is simply a case of doing what you can now, rather than saving your best opportunities for a time when the market can support the best use. I wonder if the same thing is occuring in other communities.
Welcome to my world. I has gotten so bad here I have spent much of the holidays thinking about quitting the profession and joining my brother selling advertising specialties.
 
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