Monday, June 29, 2009

Meeting Agenda

Here's our agenda for Tuesday's meeting, along with some editorial comments at the end, just 'cuz it was irresistable:
  • The Bike Route Network (map and signs to go on side of road; logo to be painted on road itself; I've got logo's etc. to show, thanks to Ford Bevins!)
  • Texas Ave. cultural district (what have we learned about what it would take to have residents who are also business-owners move in? or just residents? hooray for our new downtown lunch meeting! what have April Kempf, Feico, and the others learned?)
  • Cooperatives Center for Bikes, Food, and Building Restoration (what did Steve learn from his visit to the restoration cooperative(s) in Dallas? what space(s) would be available for a coop center that would also help downtown and therefore help create a more dense, more walkable, and less sprawled city?)
  • Converting the bayous/drainage ditches to greenways (nature trail on hold til November while labor and plans are organized by Jon Soul; is it time to mow other sections? what does the National Park Service need in preparation for their next visit for making the plan?)
  • Texas St. retail (what did Brady Blade learn at the shopping center convention? is there work we could do to create a vision of a downtown shopping destination that wouldn't depend on residents and wouldn't have to "follow the rooftops"? is there a coordination of property owners we could facilitate?
The rhetorical question that could motivate us:
If one person had control of Texas Street, would he or she have it as it exists now? Surely they'd take advantage of the Manhattan-like buildings and sidewalks.

The metaphor could be:
Every other shopping area in the city is like downhill ski slope, each built on a much small hill owned by one developer. Downtown is a huge mountain, a skier's dream, if developed, but the mountain is owned many different people. If they united behind their shared interests and built a ski resort, they'd beat every other resort in town. Alas, they're not united. Instead, they each rent out their individual properties for marginal profit, when the chance for the big take goes unfulfilled.

A controversial question in our meetings:
Should we invite local businesses to Texas Street, where the profits stay in town, the businesses are unique, and downtown serves as a greenhouse for growing our own major retail businesses? Or should we invite corporate retail Best Buy, Old Navy, Borders, Walmart, Target, etc., letting the outsiders take the spoils?
  • small, local businesses need traffic and people like a greenhouse needs sunlight, and any downtown business would benefit from glow of a Walmart, Target, or the like. (provided they aren't competing against them directly; if they are, the writing is on the wal.)
  • for that reason, local businesses have chosen to locate near big box retail
  • further, local businesses have already seen downtown and have chosen not to occupy it.
  • corporate retail hasn't made that choice because it hasn't seen downtown; it only sees large parcels of land near high traffic counts; because downtown is cut into many different parcels, they rarely see the equivalent offer of a corn field next to a highway intersection.
But would they come?

Our downtown has a highway, Market and Spring street, traffic roughly equivalent to that 70th and Youree. But a downtown site trumps a suburban one with aesthetics and energy. The architecture and the views up and down the street, river to church that invite sitting; the sidewalk spaciousness that invite socializing, and the diversity of people and purposes that invite people watching and waiting, all give any urban area that's filled a vibrance. An active downtown is not like your ordinary mall. It's a place where you want to be, shop, hang out, live!

They would come, because they'd know the people would come. Same price as the 'burbs, but with that extra appeal? They'd come.

Now, about that price....

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