Let’s start with the head of the panel is a developer who has a lot to gain. How could that possibly not be suspicious?
The desire of the City to revitalize Washington goes back nearly a decade. They did try to upgrade south Washington at one point with some ridiculous ordinances and some stupid incentives.
About 2 years ago, I spoke with the City about creating a sort of monthly art/culture/shopping/food night for Washington. This was their idea as they saw what they considered the success of Wynwood. I was called in to offer advice and leadership. First of all, they were dismayed to hear that it had taken quite a few years (5+) and a LOT of effort and risk to revitalize Wynwood.
I told them exactly what they needed to do to make it successful. I offered to create a proposal and work out the budget, etc. What I told them they needed to do would have had minimal cost, not zero, but not outrageous for a city of 90,000. It was things like signage, lighting, marketing, plus shutting down part of the street, additional police for pedestrian safety and such like that. As is obvious, they decided that would be too much, and it never happened. They were literally (NOT figuratively) trying to do it on no budget. Seriously, where the heck is all this tax revenue we were promised from all these big developments we allowed in South Beach? Not even a few bucks for neighborhood revitalization?
There was and is a very good example of what they wanted to accomplish taking place every month in Coral Gables, called Giralda Under the Stars. Last time I went, it was packed. But, when I asked the City if they had looked at that model to see what their key success issues were, they did not even know that it existed. They had done so little research on other programs similar to the one they were planning that they did not even know one was happen just a few miles away, in the same county.
I agree with whoever asked whether people want to be eating on the sidewalk as cars zoom by. First thing needed would be to slow the traffic significantly. Sitting in parking spots RIGHT next to the street is even less appealing.
Additionally, we already have this on Ocean drive AND on Lincoln Road. Do we need another mile of outdoor-tourist-rip-off restaurants? This has no benefit to locals, other than possible tax revenue for the city, but we see how that works out. We need more boutique shops, quaint restaurants, galleries, bars and other such creative-industry businesses.
It is an interesting tactic to try to reinvigorate an area by offering a stick to the potential investors, rather than a carrot. Nobody has really invested in Washington in a decade, and they think putting more restrictions on potential investors is going to bring more?
What about the existing businesses? How is creating additional requirements for new businesses going to help if the vast majority of current businesses do not participate?
How about offering some incentives? Work out a deal with a major local media to offer a “This week/month on Washington” advertising section. Offer free listings to businesses that participate with something interesting. Put up signage. Slow the traffic. Increase the number of walking police and city ambassadors. Add in village-style lighting. Add in some public art pieces. CLEAN THE F**KING SIDEWALKS. I mean, seriously, even I am scared to walk down Washington in nice shoes. See, the incentives do not need to cost a lot.
Rather than adding restrictions, how about encouraging locally-owned creative businesses to come in, instead of massive soulless developers? Offer tax breaks for anything under 2000 square feet. Offer tax breaks for boutique stores that offer unique items, rather than monsters that just sell mass-produced crap from slave-labor. Work with landowners to donate empty spaces to local artists until those spaces are rented out.
The one requirement that I do support is that businesses should keep their exterior clean. There should be some community aesthetic standards. It would not cost the business much to power-wash their exterior walls twice a month, and it would go a LONG way to beautifying the area.
Even if this new ordinance is a good plan, it will have no short or mid-range benefit. We are looking at no benefit until at least 5 years out when any new major developments built under the new ordinances are complete. via Facebook