Monday, January 12, 2009

Second Verse Same as the First

Southcomm's Richard Lawson dusts off last year's public relations effort for developers on Bells Bend.  He seems to be renewing his wish to help integrate a "second Downtown" into Bells Bends' pastoral fabric, whooping cranes be damned:
a proposed development on Bells Bend will rear its head again. Developer Tony Giarratana, who is a consultant to the May family on the proposed mixed-use development, promised as much last year.

Metro Planning received the transportation and financial impact studies staff commissioned several months ago. Giarratana and the May family likely will have new ways to counter the opposition from the (distant) neighbors to the acreage on Bells Bend.

Maybe some organic farming gets under way or those on the Bend who expressed interest in starting such farms on their own property will be shown how their business could actually thrive with captive audience in a nearby dense development.

Perhaps the incentives for a headquarters relocation to the project would include a condition that all the produce its cafeteria uses come from organic farms on the Bend. Or the Mays could ensure that space is set aside for a co-op store for the Bend's organic farmers.

Such talk may not be able to persuade the opponents, however.
I suppose the idea that urban development and rural environment are incommensurate still has not occurred to him.

UPDATE: In his responses to my criticisms over the past couple of years, Lawson has insisted over and over that I misrepresent him as an advocate for developers when he is, he claims, neutral between neighborhoods and development. But his argument today is consistent with what he has opined in the past, and you do not have to read it closely to see plainly that his one incontrovertible, non-negotiable presumption is that a second Downtown should be built on Bells Bend. So, he is really not open to negotiation at all. The suggestion that the developers offer to buy produce from local farmers is a proverbial carrot dangled for a few literal carrots. Once urban development and the inevitable sprawl buy out or drive out the organic farmers, then there is no benefit left and one of America's last urban farmlands will be extinct. There is no neutrality in Richard Lawson's reporting: it indicates that he believes that a second Downtown in place of the rolling agricultural environment of the Bend is best.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ... Wrong again. I think you have been mislead to believe that such a development would be a second downtown. That position presumes that downtown stops growing. It also presumes that all growth in a city should absolutely happen in downtown. Neither is the case. Downtown will grow if there is demand for it. Demand can't be forced. It has to be encouraged, which has been happening for a decade or more.

    You should go look at growth ideas with density nodes instead of sprawl. The Metro Planning staff thinks Bells Bend is appropriate and they have been blistered for coming across as anti-development. I think it is entertaining how the pro-urban folks have turned on the Planning director.

    Developing in rural areas has happened for eons. New York City was once a rural area. This entire country was once a rural area. It's a matter of how development is done as it ventures into rural areas that is the biggest issue. Growth has to happen to improve the tax base. Instead of eating up vast acreage with big lots and homes, the idea is to preserve as much as possible by focusing the density.

    It's a misnomer that Bell's Bend is a vast agricultural area. The only thing grown out there is sod. It might be a bit different if there were actual farms out there, particularly on the property in question. In Sumner and Wilson Counties farms were lost left and right. But in Sumner, they were old tobacco farms.

    If Nashville wasn't a metro form of government, there wouldn't be an argument of concentrating on the urban core. Instead, that community would be hashing out whether to have a small downtown. (And, yes, I say small. The proposed development doesn't have the tall buildings of downtown.) That community would be dealing with a host of issues, such as how to raise revenue to pay for police, fire, schools and other services.

    My point in the whole matter isn't to support the project, which you incorrectly read into the words, It's to point out that the idea is exactly what "smart growth" advocates champion, some of whom oppose the development. The folks out there or anywhere in the county who are opposed to it have yet to make effective arguments against it. There are a lot of red herrings in them.

    What is especially fascinating is that some of those who oppose it live in gentrified or gentrifying neighborhoods that drive up home values and push out poor people. And downtown? Well now, that will cost you a pretty penny.

    Development has to happen. Where can it happen in the county where you can build density on a large scale and the cost not be prohibitive or require economic incentives? No other alternative has been presented to Bells Bend.

    Basically, the argument that the folks out there should be making is that they simply don't want any development that would bother them. The rest is window dressing.