The Bottom Line …

Now the city of Norfolk “wants more time” to contemplate what is going to happen with Waterside!  How much more money is going to spent on studies, consultants, and other experts to figure out what should happen with this prime piece of waterfront real estate?  How much time should pass by before action is taken?  Parts of downtown are beautiful, parts are hideous, parts are an eyesore but when will the city sit back and allow the market to do what it has to do to make Norfolk into the city that it can be instead of meddling and getting in the way of progress? I do not even understand why the city even has a stake in the property.  But it is not just Norfolk and not just Hampton Roads.  This happens in every single city in America.  The only difference between other cities and those in Hampton Roads is that in other cities projects are actually completed!  In Hampton Roads, we talk about what we should do, other metropolitan areas take action.  The real estate bubble has passed, the credit has run dry, so allow those that have the money to make something happen do what they need to do and get out of their way! What I do not understand is how cities like Cleveland and Detroit can build, as broke as they are, but those in power in the cities of Hampton Roads cannot agree on what should be done.  I am not suggesting that those cities are at full capacity either, in fact they are far from it but at least some action is being taken.  Even Baltimore is building, in fact there are a lot of cities with post-industrial economies that are building.  One might have to wonder if the money simply does not exist here in Hampton Roads for great projects to be completed.  No instead we threw good money after the bad and built light rail that sits on the tracks and is not running. It reminds me of what is happening in New York.  Close everything that was not clean enough for the administrations family friendly vision for the city, run all of the poor and middle class out of town, and rebuild an unrealistic, commercialized, utopia to bring people in.  Raise prices to levels that people cannot afford.  Taxpayers can pick up the bill and fill in the blanks but they cannot afford to enjoy what is built.  What they want to do is put in a bunch of high rise condominiums as they have done in Canada without any character, where true neighborhoods will not exist but transient people will pay 90% of their income to stay there. The cities should not be involved in real estate.  Allow the local markets to do what they are going to do, stop chasing those whose money is just as good as your buddies away because they aren’t going to build what you want them to build, allow people with good ideas to fail if they wish.  Entrepreneurs should be allowed to fail on their own terms!  This is what made cities great.  America is a huge joke; every city is doing the same thing building the same projects and playing the same games with the real estate market.  Cities used to have their own sense of character; smaller cities with only 100,000 people had something just as unique as larger cities with 10 million people.  You can still find that same local flavor if you are willing to go out of your way to look for it.  But local government wants to present you with this idealized bourgeois version of what a city is supposed to look like.  They want to show you their Utopian vision of what life is like for those making over $60,000 a year.  Why would you alienate anyone that isn’t on that level that wants to see your city?  Why would you run them away? Everyone wants to live in a real city.  People do not want cookie-cutter ideas of what cities are supposed to look like.  Most people realize that cities come with a few problems, that there is plenty about the area that is not perfect, and that you are going to have a lot of people walking about and want the hustle and bustle of the city.  No one wants to live in a city where people are not working, are not creating anything and do not have any ideas.  No one wants to live in a place where people are pushing papers around and are not contributing anything to the fabric of the town.  No, American cities have allowed the true architecture to decay and fall apart.  We have torn down the great architecture and took what belongs in the suburbs and placed it in the middle of the city.  The suburbs have ugly glass and steel architecture because their downtown areas did not develop until the seventies!  Why would you bring such hideous architectural ideas and implement them in the middle of the city? Now that cities are in such horrific shape people are calling for casinos to be built.  I understand where they are coming from.  But American cities never needed to get into this shape to begin with.  The question is if those cities that have allowed casinos to be built will continue to diversify, or if the casinos are part of the natural progression of American towns.  Okay you can build a casino, but what comes after the casinos?  People still need jobs; casinos take money, but what do you think they are paying off the money you’ve win with?  No one cares that some sucker is loosing his shirt so that someone else can get paid.  But in desperation no one would care.  Americans are so desperate for some sign of life to come to their town that they would want to build a casino that will exploit 50 people in order to pay off one person.  I can’t say that I blame them though, because these are the same games that the cities are paying with our tax dollars ….