Noted El Chuqueño commenter and international man of mystery Rex Kramer had this to say about the City’s current downtown development designs:
I’m not trying to wax nostalgic but honestly, I think that downtown’s best days are behind us. What’s currently going on downtown feels so forced and unnatural (and very exclusive) that it’s just an extension of the strip mall culture that permeates the east and west sides of the city.
Recently some friends of mine have been saying that the land between the Mills Building and the old Plaza Hotel, recently acquired by local kajillionaire Paul Foster, will be developed into a “private park.”
“Private park” sounds ominous. It sounds exclusive. Will the great unwashed by denied entrance? Will Mr. Foster’s park be the VIP lounge of the long-delayed San Jacinto Plaza? Will security guards scoot us along, like they do if we try to sit on the edge of the flowerbeds in front of the Chase Building?
According to the attachment to the City Council’s July 28th agenda, Item 15.1, we the people retain a five foot wide pedestrian easement through the promenade, so we’ll at least be able to saunter by and see how the one percent live.
When you leave downtown revitalization, or economic development in general, in the hands of the private sector, they are going to take the shortest route to profits. Unfortunately, what looks like a straight line is impeded by unseen obstacles.
To the deep-pocketed investors, catering to “young professionals” seems like the only way to make a buck downtown. But how big exactly is that market segment? Where will you entice them from?
I guess I can think of a couple who live in my neighborhood, Barrio Heights. More live in Sunset. But who would move to a condo downtown from a bungalow in one of those established neighborhoods?
There’s been a radical shift in public opinion. The millennials aren’t into exclusion. The millennials aren’t into pretension. They want inclusion and authenticity. Downtown won’t come around by appealing to the scions of the one percent. Those people are out of touch with what the rest of us call consensual reality.
Austin had a 40 year reputation as a hippie enclave before it was subsumed by the trust funders. As Mr. Kramer alludes in this comment, the private investors are poisoning the well.