It’s almost midnight (eastern time zone) and I’m unable to sleep. I still see not one update posted on the I Believe in Birmingham page regarding tonight’s gathering. I’m looking for feedback, wrap-up notes, etc. Perhaps the meeting is still going strong…perhaps the revolution has already begun and ended…
I hope a few of you went and will fill me in!!
Is this an inclusive network of people that are looking to act as that unifying voice between the many (existing) advocacy groups, not to mention the City itself? Or is this impulsive anarchy? Perhaps it’s just another spark soon to fade out…
(…A few minutes later…)
John Morse, thank you for posting these notes on the <Walgreen’s> page. I’m blatantly plagiarizing your thoughts because, even though I didn’t get to hear the conversation tonight, I know that much of what you say carries great truth.
John Morse <via Facebook> I was late to the meeting, but I wanted to suggest a few directions for action besides simply protesting:
1) One sure way to get a better redevelopment is for someone who cares to jump in as developer. The mayor’s RFP process has officially ended, but if there are signs that better proposals are forthcoming, I don’t think it would be very hard to convince the city to reopen it. If they do reopen the process, we MUST not let Walgreen’s be the only proposal again. So unless one of us is planning to come to the rescue ourselves, then perhaps the best course is to illustrate some truly compelling visions for desirable re-use and get some developers interested.
2) Barring that, there’s a slim chance of employing a form of “satyagraha” by cooperating with the developer to find a mutually-beneficial solution. Would Walgreen’s developers (Connolly Net Lease of Lawrenceville, GA) be willing to work with neighborhood representatives to find an equally promising site that doesn’t require demolishing the historic building? Could you convince a developer to renovate the fire station for Bogue’s and maybe share signage at the corner? This tactic is risky because it requires being honest about our valid shared concerns rather than just wielding whichever club seems like it might to the most damage to “the enemy”.
3) A word of caution. Don’t expect Design Review’s opinions (which are likely similar to ours anyway) to have any impact whatsoever on the outcome. The power here isn’t in the permitting process, but in the city’s ownership of the property. If Connolly gets possession, they will end up being able to do whatever they want (remember the Birmingham News building?). Even if the Council makes preservation a condition of sale, there’s no guarantee (re: Quinlan Castle) that the buyer won’t find it convenient to re-evaluate the situation afterwards from a position of much more influence. Therefore there HAS to be a viable plan in place before a sale is made.
4) Lastly, until a firm policy for protecting and rehabilitating historic properties and a development authority to enforce it are in place, we will always be fighting battles from square one. This is a long-haul process that probably ends up requiring the legislature’s approval, if not a new state constitution. Scary prospect, but the sooner we recognize reality the sooner we can act to change it.