The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 June 2005

Our fumbling renaissance

A chap named The Old Downtown Guy can be seen occasionally commenting on the blog of the presumably younger Downtown Guy, and TDG the Elder was accorded space to write a post of his own, which I excerpt here:

[A] conversation ... was going on here about the sort of new stores and restaurants that might be placed in Bricktown to attract the patronage of Richard Florida's "Creative Class" and whether there is a way to encourage development in that direction. It is my experience that people of all ages, backgrounds, life styles, creative class or otherwise, congregate to do things that they share a common interest in; in places where that common interest occurs. Case in point; last evening's OKCMOA-supported deadCENTER film festival. Call it diversity in action if you will. The edgy clothing shops, vegetarian restaurants etc. discussed in earlier posts about Bricktown development are a byproduct of having sufficient cultural stimulation to attract a critical mass of people to provide the required consumer market. It's just a sidebar to "retail follows roof tops". That stimulation is constantly shifting, an ongoing series of things and might be a film festival, music festival, art festival, a competition at our new first class skateboard park or any number of people oriented events. I really believe that the market place will, in time, take care of the consumer needs.

Links added by me. The marketplace does work: if there's enough of a demand, eventually there will be a supply. TDG the Elder understands:

Trying to force the development of particular kinds of stores, restaurants and shops a la a Disneyland type of approach is ultimately doomed to failure, except in a very select few cases. As citizens, we can best direct the development of our city through our involvement in the political process. By demanding quality civic government that builds well designed appropriate public sector projects and provides services to fulfill basic community needs. And, we can encourage good public policies that facilitate the private development of venues where stimulating human activities and interaction can occur; the ways and means to nourish our minds and spirits. The market place is well suited to serve the physical wants and needs that we support with our collective disposable income. Having said that, I'll add that I can stand on either side of the discussion of whether or not it was a good idea for The City to underwrite Bass Pro as a way of jumpstarting lower Bricktown development. Cities are uniquely complex in their evolution and exciting to watch.

And for every couple of steps forward, there's one step back, or occasionally to the side, a series of motions made more interesting by the fact that not everyone agrees on which way we're going in the first place.

Finally, The Old Downtown Guy calls for the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority to quit hiding in the shadows:

Bad public policy and wrong headed thinking by the OKCURA almost slammed the door in the face of the Oklahoma City Art Museum's decision to move to its present location by quietly seeking to raze the Centre Theater building and install a surface parking lot convenient to City Hall. Only a monumental effort on the part of a handful of unsung heroic citizens prevented an unimaginable tragedy for this city. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art now stands in its perfect location.

Little of value grows where no sunlight shines.

The Authority is a public body, but over the past forty years it's managed to reduce its accountability to the public to near zero. City government otherwise is open to scrutiny; it's time to open up the Authority's agenda and proceedings to the rest of the world.

Posted at 9:52 AM to City Scene