We have an interesting opportunity where the Golden Triangle meets the Hill District…
Dwarves of Erebor. First, we have to be clear in what we discuss. Second, we have to remain clear in what we discuss. Third we should focus on City obligations, and fourth we should pursue conservative approaches to enhancing livability and inclusion.
1. Do not even bother discussing housing units branded as “affordable.” Describe how much rents would be in sums of U.S. dollars. Blahbitty-blah affordable units does not mean anything if Susan thinks “affordable” means $600 monthly whereas Roger thinks it means “Eggs Benedict.”
Tell us the rent, any time the topic happens to be whether it is too damn high.
2. The Penguins will often claim that one thing or another will make it impossible for them to turn a profit, or to reap profits less lucrative than the surface parking.
Fact-check these assertions, or at least provide some context.
3. If we are building a gateway bestriding two very different districts — servicing the needs of residents, commuters and visitors alike — we really need focus on streets and roads.
You can see here Washington & Centre is destined to be a featured intersection. So might Centre & Crawford, Crawford & Wylie, or Wylie & Lemieux. The east-to-west and south-to-north uphill grade adds special dimensions. Whole new worlds.
It gets suggested that the Lower Hill cannot participate fully in a complete streets vision for one reason or another — not the right mix of uses, not the right receptivity, not the right business climate. But if we are already massively investing in a wholly new connective enclave, from the bedrock up, this is an opportunity to lay those very foundations.
We could build the next great urban crossroads. Or, we can munch low-hanging leaves.
A good plan is neither a money farm nor a Promised Land. It’s an arrangement of lots, streets and other public infrastructure in a manner aiding our objectives, no matter who occupies them. And our objectives here are to live, work, play and reconnect.
4. In terms of housing, sometimes playing around with density does the trick. A greater number of smaller units might allow the Pens to decrease some individual rents.
The mechanism is unimportant. It’s just not outrageous to think of “affordable housing” as a serious need and this public parcel as a place to engineer a share of it. We’re a big-boy city, we can handle it. There are other market-friendly solutions; for example, vouchers exist and might be applied.
5. Once we do a good job facilitating this development project and/or rehabilitating this lost neighborhood segment, we can certainly reward ourselves by entertaining a multi-billion* dollar suspended field of green dreams spanning historic calamities. In the meanwhile, however, let us evaluate all plans on their own merits. [*-perhaps not.]
Sometimes it takes true complexity to reveal simplicity.
Clear public information, useful infrastructure, and steady action to further dignified housing: that’s how the lower Hill will be reclaimed.
Soon, it will be one such redoubt.
MORE: via WESA