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December 23, 2008
Frederick City Growth
Against the background of the massive economic retrenchment and the failures of mortgage and financial markets, the recent suggestion by a developer in Frederick City that it reduce the scope of an East Street project because the economic viability of its first proposal was no longer relevant to the market may seem a small matter, but in it lies the potential opportunity to attempt a new paradigm for City growth by having the City stick to its initial planning for the site and partner with the developer to keep its smart growth density intact, meet some City needs, and accomplish the kind of positive financial flows from new commercial development.
Normally the City’s reaction would simply be to listen to the market perspective of the developer and approve a revised development plan. But our elected leadership could step up to the plate and attempt to negotiate a build out of the project based on City financial contributions, office space needs, and an ownership stake.
The fact of the matter is that every time a commercial interest does not build at full density plans in close to downtown locations with good transit options, the City loses its growth value and concedes to further unnecessary sprawl development in its future.
The project is far off and depends on completion of a new City garage – two to ten years time and completion under a very different economic climate, ultimately one which while the private investment does not wish to stake a long term gamble, the City, on behalf of the best interests of its citizens, should do so.
The City has leverage to approve a revised, full build out, with significant diversions from the normal planning and approval process, as local authority, it can accept development concessions for itself which it would not allow a private concern. Keep the six stories, but allow the underground parking modification – why build for cars when the area allows a variety of transit options? This space can be served well by foot, cab, bus, and train traffic, as well as ‘kiss and ride’ arrivals.
The City can assure occupancy of the build out by locating government offices in the spaces, perhaps a portion of the Police Department, or Special Events, or the county transition from school support at Hayward Road to a newly built building on the same block of east Street as this proposed project. In time, market forces will insure a full commercial property rental, at the City’s gain.
Growing right, smart growth in the City requires a new approach, a fresh perspective, holding to new standards, promoting joint private and public efforts. I have called for this type of planning and growth in my upcoming candidacy for Mayor of the City of Frederick. It is a progressive change unlike any previous City proposal. It would work in concert with private development interests in a new way, a mutual goal, mutual respect and accommodation. While I retain a reputation for wanting to roll back the City’s sprawl growth, I present an exciting new opportunity to realign the historic conflicts between private commercial development and the City’s plans, and our best public interests.
I'm working on an update - Snallygaster: The Lost Legend of Frederick County. Check out the new book Here.
"For several hundred years, tales of the Snallygaster have terrified the people of Frederick County, Maryland. Described as being half-reptile and half-bird, this winged creature is said to live deep in the caves of South Mountain. Legend has it, this mysterious monster swoops down from the sky and steals children and chickens from unsuspecting farm folk. Some say it's real. Some say it's a myth. But when they see it coming, they all say... "Better run and hide...the Snallygaster's comin' to get ya!"
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