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Old 10-19-2012, 08:33 AM
nei nei started this thread nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Saw this article in the times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/ma...nted=1&_r=0&hp

Zappos.com is moving its offices from suburban Las Vegas to downtown. But downtown is rather dead. The company owner wants to invest in downtown to make the area more appealing. I wonder if he'll have any luck?

If he was going to move at least 1,200 employees, why not make it possible for them to live nearby? And if they could live nearby, why not create an urban community aligned with the culture of Zappos, which encourages the kind of “serendipitous interactions” that happen in offices without walls? As Zach Ware, Hsieh’s right-hand man in the move, put it, “We wanted the new campus to benefit from interaction with downtown, and downtown to benefit from interaction with Zappos.” The only hitch was that it would require transforming the derelict core of a major city.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:47 AM
 
Location: The City
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In a different way Ron Rubin in Philadelphia made a huge difference


Center City District- 20 Years of Downtown Transformation - YouTube
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Old 10-19-2012, 11:55 AM
 
2,553 posts, read 2,004,178 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Saw this article in the times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/ma...nted=1&_r=0&hp

Zappos.com is moving its offices from suburban Las Vegas to downtown. But downtown is rather dead. The company owner wants to invest in downtown to make the area more appealing. I wonder if he'll have any luck?

If he was going to move at least 1,200 employees, why not make it possible for them to live nearby? And if they could live nearby, why not create an urban community aligned with the culture of Zappos, which encourages the kind of “serendipitous interactions” that happen in offices without walls? As Zach Ware, Hsieh’s right-hand man in the move, put it, “We wanted the new campus to benefit from interaction with downtown, and downtown to benefit from interaction with Zappos.” The only hitch was that it would require transforming the derelict core of a major city.
Well, it should go without saying that someone (or some business or organization) with sufficient business/financial capital to have significant local political clout can dramatically change an area: Google, Facebook, Apple, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, Ford, GM, the Sobrato family, Stanford University.

But, catering to an individual person or entity presents an agency problem; what is in the best interests of the citizens may not also be in the best interest of any one business.

Take, for example, Cisco in north San Jose. Is the area better as a result? Despite having 30+ buildings, it's no less a collection of sprawling, disorganized, car-oriented, pedestrian-unfriendly, and undifferentiated business parks than any other area in the south Bay area. Has Cisco (or Google, or anyone else) used its clout to change on-site parking requirements, thereby lowering the amount of land required and reducing its property tax burden? It has not.

So, can one person revitalize a downtown (or any other area)? Yes. Does he (she or it)? Not necessarily.
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Old 10-19-2012, 01:25 PM
 
Location: Michigan
4,571 posts, read 7,031,553 times
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Some say Dan Gilbert is single-handedly remaking downtown Detroit. He isn't really doing it alone (Mike Ilitch has been building stadiums), but he's brought a great deal of properties downtown and has managed to get something like 60 companies to come into the city from the suburbs. So far it's been about 10,000 workers? At least?

Transformation Detroit: Dan Gilbert's grand plan for downtown tech hub, retail and residential | MLive.com

I would think it'd be easier to pull off in LV since it's a sunbelt city that's already growing, but then again I don't really know the circumstances of the local economy there other than the casinos. But I believe it's possible if someone has the means and the support to do it.
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Old 10-19-2012, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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RIM has been giving quite a boost to their HQ city of Waterloo when things were going well for them. Aside from employing thousands of people, their cofounders made large donations to local institutions, amounting to more than $300 million. They've already laid off 7000 people this year, leaving only 9500 employees... hopefully they can slow the bleeding but it doesn't look good.
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Old 12-02-2012, 01:34 PM
 
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Actually, San Diego inspired cities to revitalize downtowns by opening Horton's shopping mall, light rail and a nice hotel back in 1984, and the mayor was Pete Wilson.
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:29 PM
xcv
 
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One thing I have learned is that ideals and reality collide. I myself like walkable areas but I also want to park my car. Even if i walk to work I want to get groceries by car. I use the ice cream test. If I can walk home before the ice cream melts I won't take the car(Unless it is a major shopping expedition)
The next is not having to move the car. Then comes can my friend park and park overnight with out a ticket? A city that is prime for rebuilding like Detroit is one thing but a city already built is another. Too many areas have such poor land use that public transportation is a non starter.
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Old 12-02-2012, 08:56 PM
 
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Well, there's Sherman in Atlanta and Sam Rappaport in Philadelphia.. oh, wait, you said "revitalize", not "raze" :-)

Seriously, there's Rouse in the Baltimore area, with a number of projects with mixed success (Harborplace probably the most successful in Baltimore proper). But what he did is build a mall in the ruins, rather than really revitalize the downtown. (His largest project, the city of Columbia, is really an overgrown homeowners association). I think that's inevitable with single-developer projects. A real downtown has multiple owners with multiple interests, not a single owner/developer with a vision.

As for Google, Cisco, et al: Sorry, Silicon Valley is for cars. Pinko anti-car agendas are permitted only within San Francisco proper.
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:42 PM
 
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The fallacy is the idea that a single project can revitalize a large downtown. Every little bit helps of course, but in a big city it takes improvements across multiple fronts. And too often the Big Project is a self-contained isolated, sometimes fortress like area that doesn't encourage people to walk into the rest of the downtown. LA Live is a good (bad) example, though Downtown LA finally has enough other stuff going on. Real downtowns, walkable downtowns need a strong urban fabric which only lots of little improvements, not megaprojects, can provide.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:36 PM
 
9,379 posts, read 9,534,811 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlite View Post
The fallacy is the idea that a single project can revitalize a large downtown. Every little bit helps of course, but in a big city it takes improvements across multiple fronts. And too often the Big Project is a self-contained isolated, sometimes fortress like area that doesn't encourage people to walk into the rest of the downtown. LA Live is a good (bad) example, though Downtown LA finally has enough other stuff going on. Real downtowns, walkable downtowns need a strong urban fabric which only lots of little improvements, not megaprojects, can provide.
Worcester, MA is destorying one of those "megaprojects" and replacing it with something that blends into the rest of the city, rather than a mall.
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