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Hamlet (4/14)



  1. Yes... definitively. It is sorely needed in urban areas throughout the country... an affordable place to shop for basics. As it stands now, most people who live in downtown areas either travel to the suburbs for households expenses... or they pay through the nose. It would help increase the affordability of urban environments... resulting in more people considering it as a living option... resulting in more urban residential demand... which would help bring critical mass to downtown. Which is what we always talk about wanting. It's not going to occur with the addition of Yet Another Cute Expensive Niche Store. And while I don't think it would have the same effect as a suburban Walmart, it is reasonable to expect that as soon as they establish themselves downtown, the legitimacy of downtown as a retail location for any type of retailer is established. However, I doubt that they would actually be interested... as we probably don't have the density they would want for an urban store. Kind of a catch-22.
  2. I won't... but I did want to add two cents after meeting Dave Edwards. -While the current facility is nice, the combination of post-9/11 security changes and the fact that cutting-edge 1960s technology just isn't cutting it anymore made re-construction a necessity. -After completion (which effectively will re-build most of the complex with the intent to apply for LEED), the new airport will be able to accommodate expected increases in traffic until 2020-2030. The re-build will not be completed for several years.
  3. I guess I was thrown off by your inclusion of TIFs. They have pretty much exclusively been used for improving urban environments in a way that the free market would not provide for. At any rate... I actually think we are making a similar points, but because we are looking from different angles, it makes it feel like we are strongly disagreeing. You think development regs should be softened downtown. I think they should be strengthened in the suburbs. The economic pressures of both are the same... promoting more and better downtown development. I think the biggest difference is that you are trying to make the connection that because downtown development regulations are strict, all government involvement should be removed. You have to take the bad with the good. The problem is that if you remove government from the picture, then there is no Hyatt, Peace Center, Liberty Park, Fluor Field, Swamp Rabbit Trail, and most new office development (if it even happens) ends up in the suburbs due the expense of downtown parking which is largely funded by the city. The reality is that governmental involvement assists all development, not just suburban development. Could things be done better? Sure. But the good far outweighs the bad. And it's not close. For what it's worth... I have no problem with impact fees. In fact, I think it could play a vital role in communicating the true cost of suburban development. However, governments are overburdened as it is with responding to the needs of new development. Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain that the inclusion of impact fee would be viewed negatively by the anti-government crowd, as it would be branded as "just another tax."
  4. I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Are you saying there shouldn’t be zoning? In its place will arise a series of equally restrictive, but inconsistent and unpredictable private regulations… see Houston. Are you saying infrastructure should be dictated by developers? Are you familiar with the way most places work here? It pretty much is. I’m not sure where you’re going with TIF districts, as they locally have been used almost exclusively to improve the urban environment, in a way that the free market would not have done. I’m not clear on the targeted suburban tax breaks either. What is really at issue is the price of land. The price of land dictates where people build and how densely they do so. Suburban employment centers aren’t built there because of government involvement, they are built there because the land is cheaper. Zoning hardly matters. If the zoning is not correct, a developer can go through a relatively painless re-zoning process or can easily find another chunk of land that is properly zoned. In addition, there is plenty of undeveloped land within five miles of downtown that is completely unzoned. If the zoning was so incredibly restrictive here, it would all be developed. The bottom line is that there is a direct relationship between governmental involvement and downtown development. While there may be some issues with zoning, what is really a problem is the lack of restrictive zoning in the suburban areas, which forces the over-extension of infrastructure. Because our governmental bodies are relatively weak they simply respond to developer demand, resulting in infrastructure following development. The best recent local example of governmental involvement improving downtown development is the Greenville Drive. Without government’s heavy hand, we would have a team in Mauldin and the West End would be just as dead as it was ten years ago. With all of that being said, you do have a point about zoning. Once an area gets developed, the use zoning laws can often be more of a hindrance than a help, especially pure Euclidean zoning (all uses must be separate). But Greenville’s is pyramidal (allowing less intense uses in more intensely zoning areas) which means it is more progressive than most… but it’s not without its challenges. Overall I think it’s a leap to go from “the CBD overlay needs to be larger” to “government=bad.” There are a lot of legitimate reasons to criticize the government and how they interfere with society… but this is not one of them.
  5. I know this is getting really off-topic, but with the sexiness of the anti-government mentality, there needs to be a little fact-checking here. Much of your concerns are federal government issues... but with that being said, it is absolutely false to say that the free market would result in some sort of utopian downtown without suburbanization. There is an inverse relationship between governmental involvement and the strength of downtowns. People like to point to Europe as the paradigm of ideal urban development, but their development patterns are a direct product of governmental involvement. Try getting anything new built in just about any European country. Even here in the US, the best downtowns... New York, Boston, DC... they are all rife with governmental involvement. The reality is that all downtowns, without exception, are built based upon the preferred method of transportation. The reality is that our society, for better or worse, drives cars. In a free market in the US right now, all development patterns will cater to the vehicle. Woodruff Road, the local poster-child for bad development, is the free market at work. Downtown is most definitely not. That's not to say private investment hasn't played an important role... and in fact, it is probably one of the things that separates our successes from being duplicated in other markets. But to imply that if government got out of the way, things would be even better is absolutely false.
  6. That's true. In fact, the cited example of Mast General was a product of direct governmental involvement. The property was sold to Mast by the city at a discounted price.
  7. One thing to keep in mind is that planners can only be as effective as their elected officials want them to be. Granted, planners need to help inform elected officials about the impacts of decisions, but ultimately if the officials that are elected aren't willing support proactive planning, then even the best planners in the world aren't going to be successful.
  8. That reference is misleading. It is based upon Costar's (national commercial real estate inventory database) data. While their information is relatively solid locally for Greenville, it is not as much the case in other markets. They have inventoried far more properties locally than they have in comparable markets. A good case in point, Costar's retail database for the Greenville market includes 6,900 properties. The entire Charlotte market only includes 7,100 retail properties.
  9. The tricky thing is that they change. And then once they change, every organization has to change the way they publish statistics. The Burueau of Labor Statistics only recently (within the past two years) finished making all of the historical changes so that it is possible to pull MSA employment data correctly.
  10. Not trying to be annoying, just wanted to make a correction. Union County isn't in the Spartanburg MSA. Because of the way the report is laid out, it looks like it is, when it really isn't. Spartanburg's MSA consists of Spartanburg County and nothing.
  11. Just a quick comment regarding the merits of the bill... ...there was an expression of concern that these incentives should be offered to any airline, not just Southwest. If you go and read the bill, there is no reference to Southwest at all. I'm fairly certain that would be determined to be unconstitutional. Governments are not permitted to simply pick a company and give it money. From the bill: All of these are worthy goals, and point directly to some of the challenges we have locally when trying to compete against larger markets. Greenville's biggest hurdle right now is to get over the "small-market" perception. We have the 36th largest television market in the country; 50k homes smaller than Milwaukee and 40k homes larger than San Antonio. I guarantee that anyone who flies into those cities and then flies to GSP does not perceive the markets similarly. In addition, every southern state has a Greenville. More often than not, people not familiar with Greenville, South Carolina, assume that Greenville is in North Carolina. The fact that most out-of-market folks have to fly into Atlanta or Charlotte before getting here only feeds the small-market mentality. While cheaper flights would be nice, I actually think getting a larger diversity of flights is more important. If we want to recruit companies from major cities, we have to have a direct connection to those major cities. End of story. Otherwise we will continue to be mostly stuck with Atlanta and Charlotte's leftovers.
  12. Perhaps my perception is a little off, but in my opinion, I'd much rather have a simple park with a meandering path than a large long-term vacant structure. It may even have a positive impact in terms of helping to drive activity away from Main Street... which is probably the biggest shortcoming of downtown Greenville. I'm not sure I understand all the hostility. It seems kind of silly. We've been complaining about this vacant structure for eons. Now that it's gone, people want it back? Doesn't make sense.
  13. Of course, you have to realize that is a converted warehouse. It's not a brand new building. So there are limitations to what can be done. In terms of re-using an old structure, it is awesome.
  14. I'm about 95% sure it is based upon zip code and not city limits. Which makes the earlier comparison of metropolitan GDP and these numbers much less meaningful, as metropolitan GDP is based upon MSAs. A quick breakdown... Citys... city limits as defined by the city through annexation (the Census gets the information annually from each jurisdiction) Beyond that, the coordination to keep it accurate and up-to-date is too problematic. Most other times when you see city, it is actually zip code. Which is even more confusing because there are parts of the Greenville zip codes that are in other cities, and vice-versa. County... pretty straightforward. Rarely ever changes and why it is used as the basis for MSAs and CSAs. UA (urban areas)... area determined by an algorithm based upon population density and priximity to other densities. It is rarely used by anyone other than the Census. It is used to help determine eligibility for some federal funding programs. I've never seen it used in any other meaningful way. MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Areas)... determined annually by the Office of Budget and Management. An algorithm-determined agglomeration of counties that make up a region. They can be changed annually. Because producing statistics is time-consuming, when there is a change in MSA delineation, organizations that produce statistics can end up using different regions for the same MSA. CSA (Combined Statistical Areas)... determined annually by the Office of Budget and Management. Another algorithm-determined agglomeration of counties that make up a larger region. CSAs are usually larger than MSAs. For example, the Greenville CSA includes the Anderson, Spartanburg MSAs as well as a few other counties. However, in some cases, the CSA is identical to the MSA, most often found out west, where the counties take up a very large amount of area. ********* The most confusing aspects that I've found when speaking to people... ...many people do not understand the difference between zip codes and city boundaries ...the changing definitions of MSAs
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