The AJC has a recap of Tuesday’s meeting. Nothing new, except I’m not sure that the meeting room was packed with only opposition. I think many in favor just chose not to stand up for whatever reason.
But today I want to address an assertion that’s been bothering me a bit as of late.
For those on both sides and outside of this battle that have been arguing that this is a much bigger, endemic problem that Decatur needs to deal with…sorry, I just don’t buy it (except perhaps in regards to parking).
Sure there are those that will always resist change and want to keep the city the way it is, but I think they are a small minority hitching themselves onto the more specific concerns of the neighborhood. Though we may have split on this issue, I believe that most of us agree on the city’s development philosophy.
The issue with 315 W. Ponce, in addition to the Hillyer property in Old Decatur, is its location on the edge of a historic, residential neighborhood. Where will the crowds be when the Trinity Triangle development goes up in the same mixed-use format? Where will they be if anyone wants to redevelop Church St.? They’ll be at home watching Idol or contemplating Nietzsche (or whatever it is you’d like people to envision you doing when you’re not out in public). And where will they be if someone proposes to tear down the old Post Office on Trinity? They’ll be in the commission room! Why? Because from what I’ve experienced, most people in this city believe in its direction. They smile when condos and street-level retail go up in empty parking lots or replace the Relax Inn. They appreciate that the CVS is on the corner of Ponce/Commerce and not set back in the plaza. They appreciate that Crescent Moon and Sherlocks make the 1 West Courthouse parking lot bearable. They appreciate the variety of its architecture.
But the one place where we have a big problem is these two parcels. What caused it? In regards to 315 West Ponce, blind construction during urban renewal and Decatur’s popularity. With Hillyer its just the latter. Expensive property zoned by past generations as poorly as the British fashioned Iraq.
Those that don’t know Decatur or its history well will write about and assume that the city is divided on its future. Yes, its a better and easier story to write, but overall I just don’t believe its true. This is a unique problem where our damn expensive property is exacerbating the problem of C2 next to R60 in a couple locations.
So, keep up the conversation. This is probably one of the most difficult development issues we’ll deal with in a decade and perhaps the silver lining will be a more thoughtful parking plan for the city’s future. But when this is all over, remember on many things, we agree. And if C2 next to R60 is still an issue, let’s try to be proactive, not reactive about it.