This is the last in a series of questions that Michael Scott asked me in an interview. My response follows.
How are areas such as the Flats holding up amid the recession? What sorts of sustainability efforts should the downtown area be pursuing moving forward?
The recession has been a problem for everyone and all their development projects. The Flats East Bank development project by Scott Wolstein, of Developers Diversified, has been delayed, but they recently got a loan from the state to finish land remediation work (essential to prepare for development). Read this to learn more about the Flats East Bank project.
Another project that is developing in the Flats is the Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) efforts to bring the Towpath Trail all the way to Lake Erie. TPL is currently working on buying the land to finish the trail’s development (which has been going on for quite a while). The idea is that bringing the trail all the way to the lake will increase public access to our waterways, bringing in beautiful public green space through the flats and up to Whiskey Island. Green space development brings economic development with it, because people go there, and businesses follow (think of how Central Park affected NYC). This would be great for the Flats and for our city.
There are also a slew of new apartments that just opened up next to the Flats, and they are filling up with young people who work in the city, showing that there is a strong public interest in this area. The buildings have fantastic views of the waterways running around the Flats, making the area a great place for re-development.