Slack Haven: Slow Urbanism

7 thoughts on “Slack Haven: Slow Urbanism”

    1. Kevin – I’m far from brilliant. Quite the opposite actually. But I am pretty good at finding examples of other much smarter people doing cool things in obscure locations.

  1. I like that: “Corruption can produce great cities just as well as clean government.” However – I am unfortunately a former financial consultant (and a darn good one at that – I quit working at 44). I worry about the city building all these garages and financing them with debt to be paid off by future revenue streams when all the young people I know want to walk, bike and take public transportation. I worry about a major generational shift that indicates nobody under 40 wants to work in office towers anymore. That space isn’t easy to convert into residential like our Class B stuff. Whereas we used to do one mega project every 3 or 4 years, now we subsidize 5 a quarter. — And just at a time when I have earned the right to get old and cynical, I have turned hopelessly idealistic, determined to stand up for the democratic process.

    1. Big picture here. Focus on the Big Picture.

      As you accurately state, the overwhelming social and market demand is for vibrant, mixed use, transit served, walkable neighborhoods. Drivable suburbia is seriously oversupplied and much of the existing sprawl will lose value and devolve in the coming years. The good news is that the amazing intact historic existing neighborhoods in Cincinnati are being repopulated and gaining value.

      Downtown (always a wholly owned subsidiary of the Big Boys and their friends in government) will thrive or sputter. If it succeeds great. If it fails…I don’t really care one way or another. It’s a tiny (largely symbolic) sliver of the city. People from the suburbs drive off the highways and in to the parking decks, then drive away. I don’t give a damn about any of it. Will giant heavily subsidized boondoggles drain the city of resources? Will funds for other areas be cut as a result? Sure. But it’s always been that way and the city will manage just the same. I can’t waste my time trying stopping the machine.

      I’m a neighborhood kind of guy. Walnut Hills, Northside, Price Hill… This is what I care about and the less attention these places receive from the power brokers the happier I’ll be. The more they try and “improve” them the more trouble we’re likely to have.

    2. Here in San Francisco, the acres of underground parking being built is nonsensical, but I look on the bright side. Underground parking can be repurposed! I expect in the (near) future it will turn into: 1) light industrial space; 2) nightclubs (with appropriate soundproofing); 3) storage (all above aground the self-storage will turn into apartments); 4) lots and lots of bike parking. I’m sure others can think of creative possibilities 5, 6, 7, and 8.

      As to downtown office towers, they can be very useful to some suburban tech company that is spread over dozens of acres whose workforce wants to live somewhere walkable. The under-twenty-something will take tower over sprawl. Elevators may take energy, but far less energy than suburban car commuting.

      As to the debt, it will all be defaulted. Fasten your seatbelt; we’re in for a bumpy ride.

  2. You are brilliant, Granola Shotgun. Proof: “I am not a fight City Hall” kind of guy.” Oh, that cincyopolis had been so wise. Everything our civic conversation is about in Cincinnati is fighting the big boys – mainly because I am scared to death that their big risk development is going to screw everything up for the rest of us in 7-10 years. Your posts, on the other hand, are practical and can be put into immediate action by smart individuals. — Put us together – and we’re formidable.

    1. Mayor Cranley’s “transactional leadership” style is nothing new in Cincinnati or anywhere else. New York and Chicago managed to build great urban places in spite of massive century-long bouts of graft and cronyism. Corruption can produce great cities just as well as clean government. I interpret the backroom deals and thirty year tax holidays for new downtown buildings to be a good sign compared to the same backroom deals that built suburban shopping malls in Deer Park and office parks in Blue Ash. Let the Big Boys get their massive subsidies. They always do. Meanwhile there are fantastic little homes and shops in Walnut Hills, Northside, and Price Hill that can be bought for pennies on the dollar and fixed up over time on a tight budget. Fortunately most of the unpleasant obstructionist anti-urban people have already left the city for Mason and Beavercreek and are being replaced by bright young people who love living in a vibrant walkable mixed-use town. This trend will accelerate with the inevitable march of the actuarial table.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s