Allow me to be cynical for a moment. I went down to Planet Zero tonight to check out the Downtown Planning Thing with the Deal, and let me say that it is really great to see ideas flowing so readily. I have to admit that I am excited to hear so much talk about public transit, green space, and most importantly ascetics. I, as much as any, would love to see Richmond mature into a cross roads of north and south, where the past meets the future, a place know as much for its open mindedness, culture, and environmental friendliness as it is for its banking, and civil war artifacts.
However I have heard this song and dance before... I remember the buzz about the river walk, and how it was going to be as successful here as it was in San Antonio... that really hasn't worked out... so let me give my list of concerns and you can decided if I am totally off base.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it is not necessarily a recipe for success. Honestly why would anyone visit a city like New York if they could actually visit New York... So why are we trying to pattern ourselves after other successful cities instead of looking to bring out own originality and more importantly finding a niche that Richmond can hang its hat on.
How long can we suppress capitalism? in a perfect world we could balance Richmond's art and college vibe with its serious business side, but sooner or later the money will talk and many of these high and lofty ideals that are floating around right now will be smashed in favor profit... does Richmond have the stomach to say now to corporate greed and yes to a higher goal?
Finally, money. How much would this cost? And then how long will it take to complete? Or at least how long till we get to a place were we see results? The dollar number has to be huge... and the amount of time it would take to complete some of these ideas would far out last our attention spans... so by the time one project would be complete we would all be sick of paying for it with our taxes and we would all be sick of hearing about it...
Can we succeed as a city? Yes! Is this a great step? Yes! Is this a real solution? Probably not.