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Freddy C

Juxtaposition

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A good city to juxtapose against GR is Omaha, Nebraska. Prior to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) augmenting the Definition of Metropolitan GR to include Muskegon and Allegan Counties, Kent and Ottawa county defined Metro GR (by the way...the OMB changed it again and metro GR is no longer 1 mil). Anyway, the traditional Metropolitan area of Kent and Ottawa counties has a combined population today of about 850,000...slightly larger than Omaha

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A good city to juxtapose against GR is Omaha, Nebraska. Prior to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) augmenting the Definition of Metropolitan GR to include Muskegon and Allegan Counties, Kent and Ottawa county defined Metro GR (by the way...the OMB changed it again and metro GR is no longer 1 mil). Anyway, the traditional Metropolitan area of Kent and Ottawa counties has a combined population today of about 850,000...slightly larger than Omaha

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I'd love just as much as anyone else to see a soaring, world-class skyline in GR. I'd be cautious though, to expect that height would make the city 'better.' I am not in line with the attitude that wants to keep the GR image as 'small, little, and conservative,' but I do not believe that the city with the bigger tower wins.

I just recently saw a screening of "Detroit: Ruin of a City" at U of M (I posted a summary on the Detrioit forum: Metro Detroit) Although it is concerning an entirely different set of circumstances, the part that sticks out to me is when a city planner describes to negative effects when "planning takes a backseat to development."

Rather than trying to temporarily starve local office needs (who may then just decide to set up in the suburbs), I would be more inclined to planning great smaller developments that call attention to downtown GR as the premier locale in the area - perhaps a secondary "hub" to Chicago. Then outside investors can be enticed and bring with them the need and funding for height.

Then again, perhaps a big project would be needed to turn heads and get the ball rolling??? With that said, Lyon & Ottawa and Division & Fulton look prime. :thumbsup:

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We should set a few things straight.

Ottawa missed the commuter requirement by less than 1% - it was pretty much a fluke. Ohter than that, the metro is legit.

If Omaha is so comparable, why are they less than 1/2 as economcially powerful as Grand Rapids? Metro wise. Total sales in Grand Rapids are around $75 billion, Omaha is closer to Lansing at around $35 billion. Grand Rapids is economically more powerful than Jacksonville, Buffalo, Memphis, New Orleans, and Birminham. Money talks - Grand Rapids is in a higher league.

The only reason cities like Omaha and Des Moines have good skylines is that their economies are primarily service based. They are also the hub cities in their states so all essential services are located there - government representation in Grand Rapids is weak at best. Now before you knock production based economies, realize that they create a lot economically.

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We should set a few things straight.

Ottawa missed the commuter requirement by less than 1% - it was pretty much a fluke.  Ohter than that, the metro is legit.

If Omaha is so comparable, why are they less than 1/2 as economcially powerful as Grand Rapids?  Metro wise.  Total sales in Grand Rapids are around $75 billion, Omaha is closer to Lansing at around $35 billion.  Grand Rapids is economically more powerful than Jacksonville, Buffalo, Memphis, New Orleans, and Birminham.  Money talks - Grand Rapids is in a higher league.

The only reason cities like Omaha and Des Moines have good skylines is that their economies are primarily service based.  They are also the hub cities in their states so all essential services are located there - government representation in Grand Rapids is weak at best.  Now before you knock production based economies, realize that they create a lot economically.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Heh I don;t mean to sound bad, but I think its ironic that the largest company n GR is a service-based company (Meijer @ 12 Billion annually), yet we are considered a production based economy city.

I knew there was talk of the Sears/Kmart merger moving to GR. oh if only we could have gotten that. I think that merged company could have moved downtown in such a large building.

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Does size matter? One could look at the competition for height in the same respect. These tall buildings are like phallic symbols for metro and regional virility, vitality and competition for attention. It is a phenomenon born from the male ego. There is really no real functional necessity to building of such heights in most markets. Sure, the price of land and economies of scale make a difference in a few markets, but building over 1,000 feet is simply done for attention in most places. Whose got the biggest building...and whose name is one it.

From my Understanding, the new building in Omaha height was the product of the desire to be the tallest building in the region. Kansas City has had a 640 foot building and Des Moines Iowa has a 640 plus foot building. Ergo, Omaha

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. . . . I hope that their progeny takes a different ideological approach for the 21st century. Competition is simply a reality of nature and image and size...does matter. . . .

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:whistling: Freddy, Freddy, Poor Sit On Your Hands and Wait for Others to Shape Your Surroundings for You Freddy.

I have been silent listening to all this "big small town", "Detroit is major, we are not but we're as good as a Detroit suburb", "it is arrogant to call GR a big city", "I hope that someone else will make the GR I hope for" drivel long enough.

The Grand Rapids Metropolitan Area (which is now a CSA or Combined Statistical Area or Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland Metropolitan Triplex) is what it is - IT IS THE SMALLEST AND NEWEST BIG CITY/METRO AREA OF THE 21ST CENTURY. It is time to get over that and deal with the implications. The "smallest and newest" denotes that it has taken its rightful place at the bottom rung of the ladder that leads to urban GREATNESS. NO CITY that has ever been in such a position (and the list of past BOTTOM RUNGERS is long and includes the likes of Atlanta, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Miami, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Phoenix, Kansas City - even Chicago and New York before them once upon a time) gets to skip over the bottom rung. EVERY city that is fortunate enough to even GET TO the bottom rung of Big Cities must perform the requisite primary due diligence of fostering a critical mass of local thinkers/visionaries/planners/residents ( :w00t: What?!! But that sounds like the UrbanPlanet-Grand Rapids Forumers!!) that become the collective will and pride necessary to break through the conventional thinking that consigns the majority of urban areas to invisibility, zero to little growth and non-greatness.

Point in case is Atlanta. Now at some point in the 40's and 50's, were there a study group back then similar to our group, there would have been a Freddy of the then "big small town" of Atlanta and his like-minded cohorts saying things like "look at New York, Chicago and Houston . . . . now THOSE are REAL Big Cities - MAJOR Cities. Those are simply the facts and we should just move there and hope that the next generation of poor Atlanta's philanthropy will build us the Atlanta we pine for but feel powerless to engage ourselves". Fortunately for Atlanta, there were individuals outside of these limited vision folk (much like most of the UrbanPlanet-Grand Rapids crew) that said, "DAMN THAT, New York, Chicago and Detroit may be ALL THAT, but we can create a vision for Atlanta wherein it is just as major as those cities while still being Atlanta - we are proud of Atlanta and want to take her kicking and screaming if necessary to the next level!!!"

The first part of GR's civic moniker is GRAND. Such a reference denotes world-class stature and scale by definition. Some of us grasp this and likewise grasp the great disdain, ridicule and arrogant belittling that is cultivated within many when a place so named does NOTHING to radiate its GRANDNESS (by its architecture, its mindset, its regional layout, etc.). GRANDNESS and its sibling GREATNESS are not procurred by hoping or waiting for it. They are to be wrestled to the ground and inserted into the soil and raised into the air and permeated throughout the region by a few that give a damn. Please, from here forward, save your negative comments for elsewhere. We already know what GR is not. It is far more constructive to focus on what we want it to be and how we can begin our trek up the long ladder to urban greatness. Time is wasting and I for one am not waiting a second longer. The world-class GR awaits. Join me on the adventure to getting us there, will you?

-metrogrkid

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Numbers mean little when it comes to the quality of a city. It should not matter how tall our buildings are, how many people live in a subjectively defined area, what city G.R. best compares to, or where G.R. fits in the hierarchal structure of cities and economies. Identities are forged not by sizing ourselves up to others, but by forging out on our own and achieving goals that we deem important. I think a 800 foot building would look ugly in G.R. because it is not proportionate to the size of the structures now. Development at-all-cost is not what we should be after (which I feel like this forum gets caught in the trap of doing), rather we should be focusing on visions that create far greater outcomes. Placement and form of buildings are far more important than its size. We should be forming visions of a vibrant, 24-hour city that is walkable, engaging, and unique--one that seeks to engage disenfranchised segments of our community and has respect for the environment. Personally, I find cities that value "green" development, quality transit, and seek the inclusion of mixed-income individuals far more impressive than those that simply want lots of tall buildings at the expense of the aforementioned.

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Welcome Jonny. I agree with your points.

I think that a large-sized skyscraper would be nice, although it would have to represent true need and street-level sensitivity just like every other building in GR.

I'm totally in support of huge buildings, although the most happening areas of cities are rarely the skyscraping business areas, but instead the mixed-use neighborhoods surround them.

All the same I honor the folks on here for their vision of GR's future. Places like Toronto are proof that height and human scale can coexist quite attractively. There, high-rise residences and office towers are planned to complement the ground-level fabric of the city, and the density they offer to a neighborhood contributes to its variety and vitality.

I think there's room for everyone and every size; all the same, the "skyscraper in a field" style of development is dead and will stay dead. Any tall building that appears in GR will have to be planned into the fabric of the neighborhood; personally, I'd like to do away with residential-commercial use separation altogether. That way, if we get a big building, it'll have the neighborhood presence it deserves.

Numbers mean little when it comes to the quality of a city. It should not matter how tall our buildings are, how many people live in a subjectively defined area, what city G.R. best compares to, or where G.R. fits in the hierarchal structure of cities and economies. Identities are forged not by sizing ourselves up to others, but by forging out on our own and achieving goals that we deem important. I think a 800 foot building would look ugly in G.R. because it is not proportionate to the size of the structures now. Development at-all-cost is not what we should be after (which I feel like this forum gets caught in the trap of doing), rather we should be focusing on visions that create far greater outcomes. Placement and form of buildings are far more important than its size. We should be forming visions of a vibrant, 24-hour city that is walkable, engaging, and unique--one that seeks to engage disenfranchised segments of our community and has respect for the environment. Personally, I find cities that value "green" development, quality transit, and seek the inclusion of mixed-income individuals far more impressive than those that simply want lots of tall buildings at the expense of the aforementioned.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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Supernova, with all due respect I do not know how you have come to your figures. I am not saying that you are wrong, but that I most certainly believe that you have a strong emotional vested interest which could create a bias.

The US Government ECONOMIC CENSUS - does not lie. Cities like Des Moines and Omaha are closer to Lansing and Kalamazoo economically than Grand Rapids. The new one is about to be released, however, I am sure that neither Omaha or Des Moines have made a $40 billion dollar improvement in overall economic power.

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The US Government ECONOMIC CENSUS - does not lie.  Cities like Des Moines and Omaha are closer to Lansing and Kalamazoo economically than Grand Rapids.  The new one is about to be released, however, I am sure that neither Omaha or Des Moines have made a $40 billion dollar improvement in overall economic power.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well...if thats true then GR's anemic dowtown, relative to these less robust economic markets, points to a lack of leadership, vision or interest on the GR business community. Des Moines, with a third of the metro population of GR, has some major buildings and life to their CBD. If GR has all this economic strength....its sure is not reflected in its downtown.

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Freddy C thank you for your reply. However I believe that you missed the spirit of my post. I did not say that "numbers don't matter," rather I stated that they do not matter as a way to measure the quality of a city. The point is bigger and larger numbers of development projects is not necessarily the best way to achieve a desired outcome for a city. Instead, focusing on grander visions (my examples being "'green' development, quality transit, and the inclusion of mixed-income individuals), of what a city defines as important will yield greater and more sustained economic development within a city. I will use your example of GM and Flint as an example. I would assume that Flint's original stance on GM was to attract as much business within the city regardless of the negative side-effects those businesses will bring. The result was an economy solely dependent on one large corporation. When Flint was no longer a strategic location for GM and it moved its production bases elsewhere, Flint was left to clean up the big polluted mess. The point is that Grand Rapids should focus on shaping its OWN identity and not necessarily focus on what others have (in regards to largeness of its buildings). I would agree that the CN tower, the Arch in St. Louis, and the Sears tower are symbols of those cities that many people identify with. However, I would disagree that they are pivotal to their success. Supplying the City with the tallest building possible will not necessarily yield larger numbers of businesses locating to Grand Rapids. However, focusing on creating a city where people want to live, play, interact, and work will.

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Freddy,

While Grand Rapids downtown may be a little vertically challenged, anemic is a poor choice of words. It is a very vibrant downtown, more so every day. We in this city have done a good job of making Grand Rapids a happening place, even between the hours of 8-5. I have visited a lot of cities much bigger than Grand Rapids that cannot say this. As MetroGRkid pointed out, we KNOW we are on the bottom rung of the biggest cities in the U.S. I would warn anyone though to not be alarmed as we somebody are crawling over your backs to reach for the rung above you. ;)

Joe

Well...if thats true then GR's anemic dowtown, relative to these less robust economic markets, points to a lack of leadership, vision or interest on the GR business community. Des  Moines, with a third of the metro population of GR, has some major buildings and life to their CBD. If GR has all this economic strength....its sure is not reflected in its downtown.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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Freddy,

While Grand Rapids downtown may be a little vertically challenged, anemic is a poor choice of words. It is a very vibrant downtown, more so every day. We in this city have done a good job of making Grand Rapids a happening place, even between the hours of 8-5. I have visited a lot of cities much bigger than Grand Rapids that cannot say this. As MetroGRkid pointed out, we KNOW we are on the bottom rung of the biggest cities in the U.S. I would warn anyone though to not be alarmed as we somebody are crawling over your backs to reach for the rung above you. ;)

Joe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I stand by my use of anemic...everything is relative.

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I stand by my use of anemic...everything is relative.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

On the average summer day....I can find more people out and about on the streets of the Lafayette/Franklin community than I will find out and about in downtown GR...and that is a fact....a sad fact.

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I stand by my use of anemic...everything is relative.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:) WOW. This one is TOO easy. I'll let someone else define what BLISS is equivalent to here. By the way, Fred, since you are "powerless" and wish to continue to sit on your hands and wait for the world-class GR, move them around a bit so that the circulation is not cut off. Wouldn't want that to happen, would we? :rolleyes:

-metrogrkid

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Well...if thats true then GR's anemic dowtown, relative to these less robust economic markets, points to a lack of leadership, vision or interest on the GR business community. Des Moines, with a third of the metro population of GR, has some major buildings and life to their CBD. If GR has all this economic strength....its sure is not reflected in its downtown.

no the difference is that one is a production based economy while the others are service based economies. Service economies lend themselves to large buuildings, production economies lend themselves to large production buildings, not office towers.

Can you guess which is which. Also, production economies tend to be much more wealthy as average production pay rates are much higher than the average service worker rate. In the Midwest average service workers get around $8.00 hour. So yes, there are tall buildings, but they are filled to the brim with telemarketers, low level bankers, and secretaries.

Now, I am not saying one is better than the other (trust me a production based economy has its problems) but one is definitely more wealthy than the other. Whether this is deserved or not.

If I recall Des Moines is a major center for telemarketers - they employ a significant portion of the working population. That would be considered a low paying service field. They do lend themselves to large buildings though.

And before you say anything about dying industry and crap like that, low level service jobs are at jsut as much or greater risk.

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How about we give this discussion a rest? It is pretty obvious that the remarks are getting more contentious. I think all the points are valid, but let's talk about something better... Like responsible urban growth. :)

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no the difference is that one is a production based economy while the others are service based economies.  Service economies lend themselves to large buuildings, production economies lend themselves to large production buildings, not office towers.

Can you guess which is which.  Also, production economies tend to be much more wealthy as average production pay rates are much higher than the average service worker rate.  In the Midwest average service workers get around $8.00 hour.  So yes, there are tall buildings, but they are filled to the brim with telemarketers, low level bankers, and secretaries. 

Now, I am not saying one is better than the other (trust me a production based economy has its problems) but one is definitely more wealthy than the other.  Whether this is deserved or not. 

If I recall Des Moines is a major center for telemarketers - they employ a significant portion of the working population.  That would be considered a low paying service field.  They do lend themselves to large buildings though.

And before you say anything about dying industry and crap like that, low level service jobs are at jsut as much or greater risk.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well...production based economies are on the decline...that is not crap that is reality....note that Steel Case just said it will let go another 600 employees over the next couple of years, electolux, Bissel, GM and a host of other production companies downsizing. I do not see these high rise building been filled by telemarketers. They are likely filled by Law offices, Bank employees, INsurance employees, Brokerage firms, investment firms and other. I have worked in HIgh rises here in Minneapolis and certain floors are reserved for some major corporations in the area. Like Target will occupy several floors, American Express will occupy several floors. In GR, you could have a high rise that houses certin floors for Meijers office workers, Spartan stores on another, Steel Case on another, Law firms on another...ect. It is simply that such office workers and not concentrated in GR...and they could be.

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In all fairness...I think GR's Downtown has Raleigh, NC downtow beat. Raleigh is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country....with an estimated 1.4 million people in 2005. I visited the city once and went downtown and it was dead and not impressive at all in regards to height, density or activity.

raleigh_skyline8_440_panoramic_dropwm.jpg

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Well...production based economies are on the decline...that is not crap that is reality

Why am I not surpirsed that you would buy into that...

If that is the case, why is production capability within the US still gowing? Why is production capacity in the US still growing? Yes, there are some losses, but they are typically quickly offset. Will manufacturing last forever. no, but there will always still be a need for some. Farms are still around - and people like you doomed them in 1900.

If you take your arguments and apply them to services the situation looks even worse...

Dell moving thousands of jobs to India. Citibank cutting around 120,000 jobs (you know those rich bankers, accountants, and traders) because of a merger. You are really showing ignorance of the economy and the state of the economy. The US is not falling off the edge of the world any time soon, and last I checked we still are (and will be for a while) the world leader in production and more importantly productivity.

But, this is even better for Grand Rapids. It is only one of two cities in the nation that boasts of having a market leader (definied top 10) in all of the federally outlined economic markets. Guess the only other city with a more diverse economy.

New York. So no, Grand Rapids is far from being a purely production based town. It is actually one of the most diverse economic regions in the world. Furthermore, the lack of downtown space could also be explained by the four distinct downtown areas within the metro. If they were all combined within the current geographical area of downtown Grand Rapids there would be almost twice the amount of development.

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I read two interesting articles about the economy yesterday. It settles it in my mind that people like doom and gloom (maybe it is part of the human nature). Some interesting facts:

1. Manufacturing has been on a steady decline in the United States since 1979 mostly due to increased efficiencies, NOT sending work overseas.

2. China actually lost more manufacturing jobs last year than the United States.

3. Outsourcing (the hot topic). While the U.S. outsources 45.6B per year, it INSOURCES 65.5B per year.

One area that will continue to have trouble is Tool and Die, but the fact of the matter is that the U.S. is an entrepreneurial country and there is atleast a five year lag between new technology and the beginning of outsourcing.

These are national statistics. So how do I think Grand Rapids holds up?

We are a very entrepreneurial city, that bodes well for us. Much of our manufacturing is skilled labor (and not just button pushing). We have a huge Industrial design base (problem solvers). This will help us push the envelope.

As long as manufacturers can diversify and keep a skilled workforce, we will be ok. It is not bad that we are diversifying. There are some growing pains, but all in all, we still have the ability to think and muscle our way through this. Smaller manufacturing is not bad manufacturing. Efficiencies are always gained through technology.

Joe

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