Urban Layers: So Crazy it Just Might Work

In response to a letter to the editor suggesting we privatize our Port, I wrote this long and sort of unreasonable and insane post for Olyblog. I meant to just make a short post about how there might be a middle ground or something, but its late and I got carried away. I wonder if other revolutions have begun that way...

I think we ought to develop the bejeezus out of the Port. Zoning and private enterprise! Music to my ears. But seriously...
Let's sell the whole thing to the Urban Layers Project. Can you picture it? Truly mixed income housing: Relocated Fleetwood residents sharing a building with yuppies drawn in to the sexy, innovative, green-built cob condos. ("Cobdos?") And have some creative people renovate one of those warehouses into live/work artist's lofts.
It will also have a waterfront park with the new artesian well all finished off into a tiled wading pool, so not only can we fill our pitchers of water, but the kids can finally cool off without having to brawl 20 other kids for a spray from the interactive fountain. Maybe it will have a real outdoor pool, too. The park will also feature a basketball court, canoe and kayak rentals, and charter boats.
The Olympia Food Co-op could have a little healthy bodega. And the library will finally get that new building they've been asking for the last 15 years or whatever. We could expand the Farmer's Market to the size of the Pike Place Market. Maybe there will also finally be a downtown pharmacy, that would fill prescriptions for Plan B. Outdoor theater? Community arts center? I don't know.
All I know is that while the Port may be crumbling, we as a community are on the verge of growth. We could go the way of Seattle and many other cities. Grow like cancer and have our bottom fall out leaving us stuck with a bunch of empty overpriced condos and gentrified neighborhoods. Or we could think about what we want to grow. Unfettered private enterprise is not the answer, folks. We'll just get done the way Miller did our beloved brewery. We have to invest in enterprises with heart. People who are here for the long-haul. Heart can make money, but it won't just take the goods and skip town. Nor will it rot out the downtown core, leaving us locals stranded in neighboring communities while richer newcomers mushroom up in our place. Some people have said that Urban Layers is a pipe dream. But the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Seattle's Delridge neighborhood came up with 12 million dollars to do something equally ridiculous and revolutionary.Why can't we?

(This was edited slightly for clarity. Its still late.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the way you think. The Olympia branch library right there in the port, for sure. The Co-op bodega, another first rate suggestion. We have a good core with the farmer's market and marinas. The key is the make the area both wealthy and poor. Keep it mostly for nonmotorized vehicles, or at least give preference for non motored types. The more we plan to have diversity the better off we will be. The more local ownership the better. And what about the buck a cup coffee place and napkin poetry writing crepe flipping place. And yes, pop tarts, to be sure. Housing for all economic groups, side by side. Live music. Streets that function as well as buildings, or people for that matter. Sadly, I suspect it will become what the newly revitalized Tacoma/Waterfront/Tideflats are becoming, a sad and souless yuppie paradise. Jebus, even the building look exactly alike no matter who designs them or who builds them.

8:12 PM  

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