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spenser1058

When the Developers Control the Process

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Great article in today's NYTimes about what happens when the developers are allowed to control important properties for possible future development with no consideration of what they're replacing in the process. While the story is primarily about Boston, we have seen sotires just like this unfold in downtown Orlando.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/us/12filene.html?hpw

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A lot of people miss the original Filenes and the basement. And I sometimes get worried that so much focus on the retail establishment detracts from what a sad situation the construction is.

There is nothing in Orlando to compare to Downtown Crossing. Even now when it is in poor shape and dying off it still is a huge hub or activity, with so many businesses and being a central transportation link there. Even if something does get built to fill that hole, it still can become a significant barrier if it does not tie in with the street. The real value of the former Filenes building is that it provided an active facade to the public. There are a ton of people walking past that place every day. One of the places in America where cars are at the mercy of the pedestrians. This is a good example of what happens when corporate, isolation thinking is introduced to urban areas. They loose their connection, they loose the foot traffic, and they loose the attraction that brings people in. This may all be very good for the developer and those specific people in that building, if they don't pay any attention to future market trends. But very quickly the people disappear, the small businesses that survive on that foot traffic disappear, even more people stop coming, and if they are lucky it just becomes a dead zone, or if they are unlucky becomes a derelict area that attracts crime.

Orlando often suffers from this. It's too much focus on the individual building, on corporate needs and on the shiny new, to realize that what is more important is how the whole neighborhood works together.

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So, the developers of the site offered a plan to scale the project down while including a new Filen's Basement that was rejected by the Mayor? The title of the articl should have been called "A Downtown Hub Is Missed, and a Replacement Is Stalled by the Mayor"

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So, the developers of the site offered a plan to scale the project down while including a new Filen's Basement that was rejected by the Mayor? The title of the articl should have been called "A Downtown Hub Is Missed, and a Replacement Is Stalled by the Mayor"

I may be misreading the article but the Mayor seems only to be threatening to shut it down since no construction is underway. Apparently this has been going on for two years and the NY developer is offering no timeline. While our Bostonians Cloudship and praha can weigh on this I'm sure with more info than I have, it reminds me of the numerous times developers have cleared blocks in Orlando which then remain fallow for years and in some case decades (DuPont Centre II, anyone?).

It would be interesting to see if any cities have ordinances that preclude leveling a block before actual construction is ready to take place.

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The new Filene's Basement is NOT the original Filenes Basement. This was the original Filene's (a defunct department store purchased by Macy's) and the Basement was their own clearance store, NOT cheap stuff from outside distributors. I don't know if Orlando had anything like that. Bealz may have been, but that was before I got that involved with Orlando. And perhaps that's a bit of the issue there - not only that it is a big hole, it's a big hole in the social fabric as well.

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I may be misreading the article but the Mayor seems only to be threatening to shut it down since no construction is underway. Apparently this has been going on for two years and the NY developer is offering no timeline. While our Bostonians Cloudship and praha can weigh on this I'm sure with more info than I have, it reminds me of the numerous times developers have cleared blocks in Orlando which then remain fallow for years and in some case decades (DuPont Centre II, anyone?).

It would be interesting to see if any cities have ordinances that preclude leveling a block before actual construction is ready to take place.

I am not sure if any city has an ordinance. Most of the developers demolish the buildings for safety and maintenance issues, often encouraged by Council members.

On a similar note, I am glad Cameron did not demolish the Dolive building.

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The developer demolished the Filene's department store building and then made a public statement that they purposely stalled the project and intend to leave the hole in the middle of Boston unless the city provide them with city incentives. So the Mayor responded stating the if that were to happen, the city plans to take the land by eminent domain. Stay tuned...

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The developer demolished the Filene's department store building and then made a public statement that they purposely stalled the project and intend to leave the hole in the middle of Boston unless the city provide them with city incentives. So the Mayor responded stating the if that were to happen, the city plans to take the land by eminent domain. Stay tuned...

I remember that. The CEO said in an interview in NYC that the company has delayed a project to get better results but did not mention which project. The Mayor of Boston was pretty ticked after that. I still think the economy is the sole reason.

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