I’ve got a piece in the works for later this week, but after reading this story on DNA Info, I just had to make time for a quick post. Yes, I’m happy we could be getting a tenant for the former Borders building. We’d likely still be stuck with a site that still impedes pedestrian activity in the neighborhood (large parking lot, blank walls facing the sidewalk, etc.), but I’ll cross my fingers that patrons of a medical practice would venture off-site for a bit to eat.
What is more concerning to me is our alderman’s comments that seem to point to the direction planning is going to take in our neighborhood. For instance, saying we are going to wait for a “committed high-end user” for a vacant site on 95th Street before we start discussing the alcohol ban seems backward. First of all, what “high-end” user would commit to a site knowing that his or her business hinges on the repeal of an ordinance? Shouldn’t we want to repeal the ordinance regardless to ensure that our neighborhood is attractive to potential investors?
Second, I’m not sure why we are making our planning decisions around our dream businesses, which seem to be chain stores. I’ve got nothing against a chain store wanting to move to our neighborhood per se, but they often operate on business models that are more suited to suburban/exurban shopping centers. I would rather see us make plans for our neighborhood that are good for its long-term health rather take this approach where we make decisions in a piecemeal fashion. The latter doesn’t exactly send a clear signal to anyone who wants to open a business here or build a new development.
If we bend over backward to suit the needs of a business that wants to operate on the suburban shopping center model, we run the risk of another Borders situation where the development looks good in the short-term, but it doesn’t exactly help in the long-term when it closes up shop. We need to clearly plan for the future of our corridors and then follow through.