Friday, December 29, 2006

More Reader Responses

There have been a number of great reader comments in the past week, so I'll take some time now to respond to y'all. Thanks, by the way!

  • Both "anonymous" and Tara wrote about providing tax incentives to hipsters who relocate to the downtown core. While it may sound like a crazy idea, the fundamental premise is reasonable. Government does its best to incentivize all kinds of demographic-specific relocation all the time. Ever since the Feds promised free farmland to encourage westward migration, as a matter of fact! While I can't imagine a government-sanctioned "hipster test", I can imagine special tax breaks targeted at the 25-35 year-old professional demographic. How does that sound?

  • Zak822 gets right to the point: Do Clevelanders want a walkable arts district? Well, to be honest I don't know. I know that I do. And I know that a number of my peers/friends/associates do. What I don't know is how many folks like us are in the Cleveland area. Furthermore, I don't know how many folks like us live outside the Cleveland area but might consider moving here if such a district existed. Call it latent residential demand. Hard to measure, but when revealed (think iPod!) it's hard to ignore.

  • Graciesdaddy posts a rather length and well-thought-out response. I'l be writing a more complete response in the coming weeks (along with a profile of the development he works on), but here are some quick points I'd like to bring up: (1) The creation of an arts district is, according to the poster, brought about by a vanguard of businesses. I agree, though we should look to Crocker Park as an interesting example of a total-planning effort that worked; (2) the vanguard can be brought in if a single developer has the vision and the capital. Again, I agree: the fact is that you need significant start-up capital to get things rolling, and generally speaking the only parties willing to pony up that kind of cash are private developers (HUD isn't quite that imaginative); (3) latent demand exists for this kind of district. Yes yes yes!

  • Raines correctly points out that I glossed over the significance of co-housing. For that, I apologize. I do intend to write a few more complete entries on the phenomenon. Raines also reminds us that renewable-energy gimmicks can work as lures for otherwise non-environmentally-oriented consumers. He's right: we eco-friendly urban planners need to recognize that the vast majority of consumers are not ideologically motivated in selecting eco- or non-eco-friendly homes.

  • Anonymous is generous with his compliments (thank you!), and brings two more elements into the conversation about sprawl and its effects: (1) Anonymous correctly identifies race, and race politics, as a driving force of white flight. In my post about the proposed Avon I-90 exit, I wrote mainly in class terms, not race. But Anonymous is right: middle-class whites are fleeing working-class and poor blacks bit by bit, from the city to the inner ring to the outer ring. (2) Anonymous suggests B-17's as urban development. Bomb it all down, and rebuild. Now, obviously we're not going to wage actual war on urban poverty. But destruction can indeed lead to rebirth. I intend to write more fully about this soon, but to whet your appetite, consider the Chicago fire...


Blogger Christine said...

I want a walkable arts district. It would have to have a farmers market, a bank, a post office, a library, a place to buy magazines and newspapers and aspirin, and a place to buy good beer and wine. I would live in it even if it was full of loathsome hipsters.

3:56 PM  

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