Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tonight's Westin Vote in Metro Council: Progress is Preferable to Sitting Still

We are faced with limited options on the controversial Westin vote tonight. Accepting the Westin would give Lower Broad something it does not and may not be able to get otherwise: historical overlay.

Council Member Mike Jameson also maintains that preservation of buildings for vacancy and underutilization is "a hollow achievement." I agree. I believe that the three Westin bills up for third and final reading tonight are not a perfect solution, but they seem to be the best one that we can get.

Lower Broad does not get the historical overlay in the foreseeable future without the Westin, and the Westin seems to have made compromises to its plans to get permission to build. Above all, Mike Jameson is one of the most trustworthy Council Members we have; with the logic of the deal ironclad, his judgment gives the deal palatability.

The prospect if these bills are defeated or carelessly amended is not at all ideal: Lower Broad properties remain significantly vacant and open to buy out and tear down (or worse, ugly renovation à la Planet Hollywood) with little or no protection. Preservations would be left to battle house-to-house, floor-by-floor; I do not like the odds of winning that war. The progress before us, though not perfect, is preferable to Lower Broad continuing to sit still.

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