Reading the report in the Sunday Daily Planet about plans for an “upscale apartment building with retail and office space on the ground level” on north Main Avenue put a smile on my face. It was not so much about the positive development of the former Youth Enrichment Services building and Bingo Hall, but the follow up announcement in the report that plans for the previously announced “apartment complex for affordable Senior housing” “has fallen through – at least for the time being.”
Smiling is better than all the kvetching I have been doing about that “affordable senior housing.”
The Uptown project as conceived and announced in February of 2007 was a plan that included retail stores, bars, restaurants, and upscale apartments, perhaps condominiums, and even a “boutique” hotel. I posted on my excitement and support of Uptown contemporaneously. It was planned to be an upscale project that would make Downtown more livable, create redevelopment, and increase the tax base. The planned project is on the east side of North Main Avenue. As an enticement the City would make available under an arrangement the use of the property on the west side of Phillips Avenue from approximately 5th Street to 2nd Street, the Jewel of the Parkway leading to Falls Park.
My kvetching was all about having the “low income housing” queer the deal. If you want an upscale downtown living experience, would entrepreneurs, for example Big Apple Pizza (very good by the way) who sell $20 pies locate next to public assisted housing? Put another way, would the “low incomers” eat $20 pies and $3 brewskies? Or a “boutique” hotel for that matter. (I just love the sound of boutique hotel – it has a ring to it, like flat floor space.) There are other locations more suitable for the assisted housing. Using some of the best real estate downtown is not ideal.
Community Development rightfully should help Developers find a more suitable location for the low income seniors and go for it; but if they want an Upscale Uptown, this delay gives Uptown a Second Chance.
Disclaimers Endbar– Under the right circumstances I can support government assistance for housing projects and I believe in property rights. 1. I don’t believe the Uptown project that involves Community Development is the right location for public assisted housing. 2. If Lloyd Companies want to develop their property and meet existing laws, regulations, and zoning, it is OK with me. However the City does not have to partner with private interest by giving up the use of its prime real estate (the abutting Phillips Avenue property) for less than a prime development. I just don’t think low income housing for an upscale development works.
Speaking of mixed use in the Uptown, I note that the former Crescent Electric Building (700 North Main) has been purchased by The Ransom Church.