Sunday, January 27, 2008

Seattle Style Crash

I've left an angry rant over on SLOG with the post that they finally got the Chinatown arch up. It is pretty to look at, but it's like putting a new door on a house badly needing it's foundation fixed. The potential for the ID to really take off has been stifled and with the boom kinda nearing over these days, I think they (the landowners) missed the boat on opportunities to make the ID more urban residential. A few years ago - i was asked to participate by the ID Development Authority on what I thought would bring more people/growth the ID. Simple - I said, Let some of these spaces that are in need of repair (those that are not condemned), rented out to artists and push the artwalk east from P-square. Ok - kinda a wacky idea, but that's pushing growth forward if you get more creative elements and small businesses opening up (KOBO at Higo is a great development!!). As it stands, I see more and more businesses failing and moving out. I don't think there's enough to sustain these overtime - especially as Uwaijimaya is the dominant grocery store and now there's talk of a big box retail development to open up on Dearborn.
Granted, my ethnic identity is not tied up in the ID, and the Asians that do participate are there for mostly commerce and a certain % cultural identity. But even so, it's underutilized and quickly becoming the Chinatown like Vancouver (known drug area), and has created a wall between first wave immigrants who can't afford to live in the suburbs and the office workers who quickly vacate at 6pm (and with Amazon moving to SLU, it's going to be even more empty).
I guess it just makes me angry that whole blocks of healthy retail on Pike/Pine (Belmont) are taken out while there's actual properties that could be renovated. Maybe it's the cost of repairs -- and if that's the case, some dialogue should happen if having a building that's a health menace should still be around if no one can live in it (read - Rainer Cold Storage), or if it's worth saving some heritage. Ironically enough, the arch is right next to the empty Publix Hotel, a scary lynchian building where all of it's residence were sent packing last decade. Across the street from there is a sports bar where the indigent and drugged out loiter all day. I don't see revitilization coming any time soon.

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