Justice writes "
The city has completed negotiations and
signed the paperwork with NRI, setting the city on a irreversible
path to start construction on Grandview Yard. Maybe it will all work
out as planned, and retail business will prosper, and the city will
eventually gain new tax money from the project. Maybe the schools
will cope with the new families in the housing to be built, and the
school system will benefit.
Given the bad news we read in the
papers every day on the economy, it seems like a long shot. Who can
predict with certainty? Despite the Mayor's reassurance that the deal
has “non-recourse” clauses in the contract that protect the city,
we know it will be bad PR if things go south. It can't be good to be
known as “Grandview, the city with a failed development rusting
away on prime property”.
There are worse possibilities than just
a failed shopping district.
During the lead up to the negotiations
the city council looked at every possible outcome, and speculated on
the chances of them occurring. The following scenario was one that a
council member outlined for me in general, I filled in some
speculation, but this is a real possibility.
Failed G.Y. development
I'm not very optimistic about the short
and medium economic picture. The best story I have read about the
country's financial sector is this Atlantic article, it has a good
non-ideological explanation of the problem and the solutions.
Washington is not doing very well with those solutions. Unemployment
is the other big problem, and I share Krugman's skepticism over a
turnaround. Between outsourcing and mechanization of production there
are a lot of lost jobs that will never return. Building windmills
will not change that fact. I think we are headed for a Japan style 10
year economic downturn.
NRI has told the city that the phase
one construction of three buildings and a two story parking lot are
on the way, but no major retail has been signed yet. We are still left
with this quote - “The developer
is looking to show the project will happen and hopefully that will
generate more interest." I understand the basics of the
strategy, gas prices have caused the ever larger ring of new shopping
developments to become unsustainable. G.Y. is supposed to be the
central development that the City Center failed to become.
a big economic recovery, I don't think the metro area needs G.Y.
has said they are in for the long term. They are willing to wait for
conditions to be right to start building the full project. I think
they have good intentions – but the pressure on CEOs is to make
short term profits. After the second or third new leader of
nationwide takes the helm 6 years in the future, that dog of an
investment, empty land in Grandview causing nothing but losses will
be an easy target for elimination. The sale of 50 acres to another
developer will be a fast solution.
building of low income housing.
Federal programs to increase the
building of low income housing are sure to be on the rise. The new
jobs that are created are needed, the housing is needed.
The building of low income housing in
central city areas is the traditional way, but it is being
successfully challenged by Anti-Discrimination groups. Read this NYT
article about the landmark desegregation agreement that would compel
Westchester County to create affordable housing in overwhelmingly
This is the future for Grandview.
I personally would welcome low income
housing in Grandview. I think the city would have some adjustments
but could live with 100 low income units. I think the schools would
benefit from 100 low income school children, the exposure to only
high and middle income kids is a shelter that doesn't give a full
education to Grandview students.
I'm aware that my feeling are not
shared by the majority of the community. Some of that is because of a
fear of change. I don't think it is out of line to say an underlying
thread of racism is present.
Big developments are profitable
If we take it as a given that new low
income housing is inevitable in Grandview, why fear that Grandview
Yard would be the location? There are smaller places a new
development could be built, such as the site of the failed attempt
called “Grandview Station” on 33. The problems with that site are
no different than those faced by the Bear Creek people, unknown
wastes buried in a dump present high costs for building and providing
utilities would be expensive.
Grandview Yard will have utilities
constructed and ready to go, thanks to the first phase of G.Y.
construction. Cleanup of environmental problems will be finished
Take a federal (and court approved)
mandate for low income housing in predominately white communities,
add the fact that larger projects make the developer more money.
Maybe the feds offer increased funding to communities that accept big
developments, and hold a stick of reduced fed funding to those
communities who refuse to allow these developments.
Grandview schools can cope with 100 new
kids. If a 500 unit development brings 500 new students, things start
to go wrong, no matter what their economic background. A new school
building would be needed, taxes would go up, resentment builds from
Grandview parents who don't like the “interlopers”. Bad things
happen in overcrowded schools.
The preceding was a speculated future
that has somewhere between 10 and 90 percent chance of happening. If
you have a good argument for why this can't possibly occur, please
send it in (use the feedback form on the left). I would be fine with doing a revision
of this story if the facts prove it can't come true.
I don't think the part about a “thread
of racism” being present in Grandview will need to be retracted. As
a white person who grew up in a white farm community, even I feel a
little creeped out by the near total whiteness of Grandview Hts. I
don't think that happened by chance. Maybe that will be the topic of
(Much later postscript)
I think the main thrust of this story was proved correct - there was no need for retail shopping in the central city, at least at this location, and the Yard never became a destination shopping area. Nationwide rescued its own development by moving the training campus into the Yard.
There was no low income built into the development (as of 2015) because the thousands of high income jobs provided by the campus allowed them to keep the housing mid to high price.
The alternate reality where Nationwide didn't eat their own dogfood might have been similar to this story.