by Lisa Varouxis
As you are reviewing the most recent submission from Spectrum Development, LLC (and any future submissions for other developments), please ask yourself these questions, using the existing Mixed Use Developments (MUDs) as your model:
What is the occupancy percentage of the residential units (both condominium and rental) at the 1 year, 2 year and 5 year anniversaries of the completion of the development?
- What percentage of the retail/commercial space is occupied after 1 year? After 2 years? After 5 years? (The Broadway has several storefronts vacant, and has for several years.)
- Are these developments attracting the desired demographics (millennials and retirees) or upper middle class families with school-aged children?
- Are the new units priced so retirees and middle class citizens can afford to live in the City, or are we becoming exclusive and out of reach price-wise for many?
- How has the influx of so many new residential units affected the infrastructure of the City? Think of all of the little things the City supports, to include:
- How many vehicles have the new residents registered with the city? These are additional cars on the City’s streets.
- What increase has been observed in sewer usage? Additional usage means closer monitoring and, possibly, more preventative maintenance.
- Is the library seeing an increase in patrons?
- How many students have been added to the school system?
- In square footage, how much additional impervious surface has been added?
- How has the tax burden on the residents changed since completion of The Broadway, The Spectrum, The Byron, and Pearson Square? It continues to increase, yet those in favor of continuing with the building of MUDs declare the additional tax revenue generated by the retail stores on the first floor of a development more than adequately covers the increased costs of additional residents.
Using the answers to the questions posed above, and others you may have thought of, do you truly believe changing land currently zoned as B1, B2 and B3 to mixed use is in the best interest of the current City residents and the City itself? If a business is not performing up to the expectations of the Planning Department, isn’t the known revenue provided by that business better than unknown revenue, which will be offset by the cost of providing services to new residents, better for everyone?
Lisa, thank you so much for this intelligent contribution to this news venue. These are the kinds of questions our public officials have yet to fully adress because they are so busy trying to distract the public with ever-rosier misleading pronouncements about how great these MUDs will be for our city.
I really wish you would cut and paste your questions in the FCNP’s most recent “articles” (Mark Kaye had to do that to get his article/press release to appear in that venue because Nick Benton would apparently not publish it). The article was a very slanted expose about a petition filed with the Arlington Courts against our School Board by parents, one of whom is a candidate in the upcoming elections.
Comments by readers were immediately aimed at Becky Smerndon and then Alison Kutchma, who was not even part of the filing group. The beratings, marginalizations, and vicious character bashings are, in my opinion, clearly meant to further distract and confuse the public into thinking that there is no relationship beyond MUDs and the Council, yet the dots to the School Board are plainly visible, and these lead to developers, in a circular systemic pattern.
The Council and School Board and FCNP will malign anyone who deigns to expose these entities and what they are doing with our money. The attacks serve to distract and confuse the public further about the issues such as the ones you are raising that are not being adressed by our pro-MUD officials, and exactly how these MUDs are systemically connected to and supported by our School Board, Council, and other public officials, who have ethically inapropriate and coddling relations with every developer that winks an eye their way.
Sadly, FCNP is probably the most widely read and intensely biased publication coming out of the city, and your article and others like it may never see the light of day there, very intentionally. And this is how questions like yours, and the individuals who bravely ask them are marginalized, and characterized as being fringe voices. As I see it, the battle of meaningful, accurate, and honest words and ideas meant to properly inform and educate the public must be taken to the front of the battlefield, or excellent questions like yours will continue to be sung to your choir, and the lies by your opposition will continue to be peddled as being main stream and therefore worthy of publication in the most widely read sources.
I believe we can not put into separate silos the incestuous relationships between MUDs, schools, the council, top city admin officials, and development. Those who want to siloize the connections between these entities are doing so very intentionally, because it serves to conquer and divide. Ergo, they are winning the PR battle, and this article will not get much exposure. Unless you stand on a corner and keep reading it through a megaphone.
God love your li’l heart for your bravery in publishing herein. You may be shamed mercilessly for doing so.
Having lived in the City almost continuously since 1964 , I have seen many changes. Some of the changes were for the good, but many (such as selling the Madison school property to a developer) were shortsighted. I fear that will be the case with the MUDs – not enough thought put into the long term impacts the developments will have on the City.
If someone can tell me how to get these questions posted to the fcnp.com site, I’ll certainly do so. I tried to do so yesterday, but the site denied the post as it was too long.
I have also posted them on Facebook and sent them to the Council, Boards and Commissions.
Funny you should mention that. Last night at the candidate forum, when the candidates were discussing “Plan B” in light of the Mt. Daniel debacle, I could not help but think back to the sale of the site (Whittier? cannot remember for sure) on Hillwood Avenue that I believe was a former school site and would have been a great plan B.
Back to your statement about “not enough thought put into the long term”.
Yes, Mark, the Whittier school property, and fields, on Hillwood Avenue were sold for development.
My initial thought for a Plan B is to hold on to the land acquired in the sale of the water system and use that for future school expansion. There should be plenty of space there for all of the schools, plus playing fields, parking for teachers/staff/students/school buses while still allowing a separation of the different schools. Again, just an initial thought as I hope there are other options.
Oddly enough, or maybe not, I haven’t heard anything back from any of our elected officials, commissioners, board or staff. Hmmm