Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Eminent Domain Set to Sizzle

With the Olympics decision upon us, the hundreds of businesses at Willets Point are waiting anxiously to find out if the arson planned for their property will be using an accelerant or just a plan old match. Clearly, a positive Olympics decision for NYC 2012 will make their opposition to the redevelopment of their area extremely difficult to say the least.

On the other hand, the more expected thumbs down will at least create less of an impetus and, perhaps, greater caution in the effort to take away someone else’s property. This is the crux of John Tierney’s pointed editorial in today’s times as well as Mark Steyn’s more mordant take on the subject in the NY Sun. Tierney’s contribution is to expose the mess that the urban renewalists created in his hometown of Pittsburgh over the last forty years. Of particular importance to us is the raging destruction of many urban neighborhoods and their equally lively shopping areas that Tierney describes.

Tierney also highlights those neighborhoods that were spared the urban renewal rod and, as a result flourished:

…the old-fashioned business districts with crowded sidewalks and the newly gentrified neighborhoods with renovated homes and converted warehouses. The future justice would quickly see what sets the success stories apart from Gateway Center and East Liberty. No politicians ever seized those homes and businesses for a "better use."

Much too often the developers, urban planners and their editorial writing acolytes have never lived no less visited some of those neighborhoods that they first describe as blighted before eagerly calling in the bulldozers. Too often, the sterile replacements are huge disappointments, never coming close to ever replicating the vibrant street life that is so appealing about the best urban neighborhoods.