The moniker - Garden District - doesn’t exactly conjure images of densely packed, looming towers populated by residents contending for parking spaces.
Gardens are low and green and serene.
Underlying assumptions that currently drive the debate about how - and if - to encourage or allow new construction to abut the historic underpinnings are merely assumptions:
Growth is good - how many people can you entertain at one time? Once the house is full, what becomes of new arrivals?
The market demands high ceilings. Well maybe, but where is the data, the evidence, the facts?
60 feet is necessary for a fair return on investment. For this there is no evidence at all save for the developer’s own math.
More is better. More what? Bars? Restaurants? Shops? Offices? Why? Are there empty storefronts beyond the natural ebb and flow of business?
Developers deserve incentives. Why? What will their project do for me? Reduce my taxes? Add value to my property? And to the property I will need to buy if I sell. To the tax rolls? Not if we give the incremental tax away. Give me data.
The neighborhood needs improvement. Well, maybe, but private land and home owners have done well enough in other historic neighborhoods. The record is there. There are many other areas near town that are not populated by historic homesteads.
Publix downtown. Southgate is less than two miles from Lake Morton - a half-hour walk, which no one will undertake with groceries, in the rain, in 95-degree heat. Putting it in the middle of Lake Morton wouldn’t change anything.
Density is good. Ever ridden a crowded elevator? A sustainable population requires that we know what number we can sustain. No one has offered any real estimates of what another 1,000 residents within a mile of Munn Park will mean.
Public servants versus public officials. We the people elect public servants to collect and consider our concerns and ideals and communicate them to city officials who are charged with maintaining public safety and quality of life while managing change and its impact. The elected commission serves to represent us, not direct us.
So, keep your house in order. Painted. Landscaped. Repaired. Restore! Renovate! Good bungalows make good neighbors. Ask the commission to direct the staff to help developers do it right.