Friday, October 23, 2009

DeKalb stadium? Guess what category I'm filing that under...

If you read this on RSS, you may have missed my "stupid ideas" tag.  It exists for ideas such as building a new Central Library, reviving I-485, and video casinos at Underground.  We can add "building a stadium in Doraville" that that list.

On a simple level, I believe that a stadium for the Atlanta Falcons should be in, um, Atlanta.  The Georgia Dome also regularly hosts events such as the SEC championship games, Final Fours, Peach Bowls (not gonna call it that other thing), celebrity get-rich seminars, and church revivals.  Many of these events pack the hotels Downtown.  What sense does it make to try and move this infrastructure to Doraville?

I'm sure it will be a big surprise, of course, that I also think a stadium for the Falcons needs to be Downtown.  While I dislike tourist attractions as a strategy for reviving central cities, I do think central cities are best equipped to support such attractions.  I also belive that such attractions are good additions to the milieu of urban life.  Separating out the big draws loses a lot of the synergy that having all that stuff Downtown creates. 

I know the idea in Doraville is to have a stadium, plus a lot of other stuff, but ... all that exists already Downtown.  Where there is ALREADY A STADIUM. 

Also, I'm mildly concerned with the way that DeKalb is handling matters on this GM site.  The communication with Doraville has been spotty at best, and the county seems to be getting very involved in a piece of property that is privately owned.  New CEO Burrell Ellis is pushing hard, even considering going after $35 million in Obama bucks to purchase part of the property:
Ellis said he felt as CEO of the largest government involved in the potential redevelopment of the former auto plant that he had to do something.

General Motors Co. first said it hoped to close on the sale of the plant by the end of 2008, but the real estate market started to collapse and land values plummeted.

GM later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, emerging from the process earlier this year.

“We kept thinking GM was going to move on this site,” Ellis said.

“I know we’ve indicated to GM we want this site to be revitalized. At some point, the market will force them to do something.”
I am very concerned about leaving zoning and land use up to a government that seems to be most interested in moving quickly and creating jobs.  The political incentive to "fix it" means that you could end up with something (like a stadium) that the community doesn't want, that hurts the region, and that the county is partly on the hook for.  I think there are plenty of opportunities for government to get involved in land development - TADs are one great example.  IIRC, Atlanta's invovlement with Atlantic Station came further down the road than what DeKalb is doing with this GM plant, and it involved a much larger host of community partners. 

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