Thursday, December 11, 2008

Construction A Go-Go?

Just when I thought the recession had silenced the developers, I awoke this morning to the rhythmic, earth-shaking percussion* of pylons being sunk. So someone is still bank-financed and owing debt,** independently rich, or just throwing caution to the wind and building, building, building, come hell or high...rises.


Still, many lots are empty (or in limbo).*** What can we do with them? Since moving here almost two years ago (before the corner factory was razed****), I've harbored fantasies of guerilla gardening. Mightn't the spaces also become bonafide parks or community gathering spaces?

Not according to New Yorker editor Nick Paumgarten, who recently asked a similar question: "What will become of the pits?" According to Paumgarten's research, "Vacant space tends to remain vacant, in anticipation of an upswing. Tax policy, intertia, and the eternal belief that things will get better again usually trump civic dreams of pocket parks or stickball fields."

Thankfully, I think things ARE better, just as they are, with the pace of development slowed - at least - and the opportunity for bulb grenades and plywood tags on every corner...

**A Philadelphia developer had this to say about his reasons for continuing development despite the housing market crash: "We get bank financing for the site improvements. The bank needs to be repaid, and so we're committed to keeping things moving."

***Click "lots" to read a great article that mentions the empty lot at Withers and Union and shares the thoughts of neighborhood advocate Phil DePaolo, who defines "Planner’s Blight" as "when speculative development is allowed to spiral out of control because city officials zone without a policy for responsible growth."


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