Friday, November 30, 2007

In the Words of George Gershwin, "Let's Put On Some Speed!"

With my bias for action, almost everything is more complicated than I envision. But I wonder what’s holding up the public side of the public/private city center revitalization partnership with Greenfire Development.

While some objected to the tactics and/or the amount invested with American Tobacco, it is what it is, and it clearly set the standard. By all accounts, American Tobacco is a success, and over time, it could self-fund a return on investment to taxpayers.

So the partnership with Greenfire Development seems like a slam dunk. No hardball, no “my way or the highway,” and they put real money on the table first, not just conditional options. And Greenfire is clearly taking on the much larger and more significant task of truly jumpstarting the city center.

Any experience I have is on the “demand side” of economic development, and I have only vicarious expertise with this “supply side” stuff. But to me, the public sector should be jumping for joy and immediately executing an “American Tobacco style” template with Greenfire.

I realize most of the public sector players are new, but playing hard to get now isn’t going to compensate for any perceived past excesses, and besides, it is unfair.

I do know one thing. We’ve only truly just begun the task of Downtown revitalization. Other communities would die for a Greenfire. Just because the company is homegrown doesn’t mean its investments have to be here.

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