Comerica Park (where the Tigers play) is, by all accounts, a jewel. As was Tiger Stadium before it was abandoned. Greektown is the one and only "happening" nightspot in a city of 900,000 people. The Renaissance Center is a masterfully designed and vibrant hub on the Detroit River where General Motors employees and hundreds of others make their way in life.
These are oases. In an otherwise wrecked and largely abandoned city.
The folks at the Roanoke Times and their buds in city government think that the reported success of City Market can, by osmosis (or whim), be transferred to an otherwise failing downtown area. Planners in Detroit had the same thought; thus the name Renaissance Center.
Here's a portion of the editorial:
Anyone who spends time there will attest to that fact. But, just as is the case with Detroit, isolated areas of vitality do not a kickass city make.
Helping City Market reach its potential
The latest study can help the market area keep its vitality, and perhaps spread it elsewhere.
Roanoke skeptics wary of the ability of high-priced consultants to advance the revitalization of the City Market area should remember Design '79.
That study by an out-of-town consultant was the genesis of much of what is currently good and vital downtown.
The City Market area has become the heart and soul of downtown. Its restaurants, produce vendors, museums and shops attract the daily and nightly crowds that make downtown -- or at least parts of it -- bustle. (link)
... the vitality of the City Market has yet to spread to other parts of downtown.When I lived in the suburbs of Detroit, I moved in and out of the city the way most people in the area do. The family would drive downtown to catch a Tigers game and, when the game was over, we'd drive back out. People drive down to Greektown at night to get their fill of souvlaki and ouzo and drive back out. GM employees endure the morning commute to the "Ren Cen" and, at the end of the day, head back home.
Detroit and Roanoke have similar problems. Except for a few enclaves where economic vitality still lingers, both cities are dead - or dying.
The Times editorial calls for support of a new ($100,000) study by an outside consultant that is intended to spread City Market success to the rest of the downtown area. Or at least to the building next door.
It's a waste of time.
The city, the county, Southwest Virginia need to turn onto a different path. Growth for the area will only come about when our political leadership - Democrats all - break the shackles that stymy investment and force businesses to flee (by the way, goodbye Johnson & Johnson; nice try Wal-Mart).
The costs of doing business in Roanoke, Virginia are too high. Government taxation and regulation - and planning - are part of the problem.
Get out of the way, quit meddling, and stop trying to make Roanoke a worker's (and environmentalist's) paradise, and business - large and small - will solve its own problems.
I have another suggestion for city planners. To find a path to prosperity, schedule a trip to Ireland. Soon.
Or look to a vegetable stand for your future. You decide.