Apr 23, 2009

Groundhog Day

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray wakes up every morning to find himself re-living the previous day, over and over. Yesterday, Jarrett Renshaw wrote, on Queen City Blog, about grants to improve 7th St. I attended my first 7th St. Gateway improvement meeting in 1994 at St. Luke's Church. In 2005 I attended the exact same meeting, in the same place, moderated by the same City official. All the audience eager beaver participants were new, thinking the wheel was being re-invented. Little did they know how many millions were squandered by this Groundhog Day real life bureaucracy. Ironically, the section of 7th St. never reached by these programs, developed a viable business district without the intervention of city planners. Nineteen years later, I am encouraged by the new Main St. Program and it's manager, Peter Lewnes. Perhaps tomorrow will be a new day.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, I too, attended those
early meetings and believed something could get done. All that money, all those grants, what happened to those funds? Never have I heard any accounting. Oddly though, just a few weeks ago met a man-in-the-know who said 7th Street is thriving. Businesses come and go, but it is thriving and folks are making money right now. This man compared 7th St to the Bronx and said it is working just the way it is. So, maybe we should leave 7 St. alone and use grant funds elsewhere.

Chris Casey said...

If they hired Andie McDowell to administer the funds, I'd volunteer to be her assistant!

michael molovinsky said...

yes, most of us live groundhog days, but without andie, which takes us back to riley, what a revolting development this turned out to be.

Anonymous said...

Yours, "Perhaps tomorrow will be a new day."

Michael, don't count on it. Remember who is mayor.

But maybe there is a groundhog day.

Anonymous said...

Actually, plans to improve 7th Street go back even further than 1994. There was an entire corridor study done in the early 1980s as well. Suggested facade improvements were made for each building on Seventh Street from Tilghman Street south to Linden Street. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Seventh Street was a very different corridor from a business and residential perspective. In any event, some buildings were renovated and facades done to comply with the plan. One that I recall was the former Parks Seafood store and then subsequently Parks Seafood restaurant which occupied a prominent and thriving spot just north of St. Luke's church. Other suggestions that were seriously considered included renovations to the former Ace Hotel and Bar Supply building - now a parking lot - and several other buildings including the former Seventh Street deli - still one of the best that ever existed in the City. The plan never got a lot of buy-in or support - some trees were planted, some buildings redone, and Allentown and Seventh Street morphed into what they are today, sad vesitiges of their former personas. I do agree with you on the "new" vibrancy of the street, however.
Former Sears Shopper

michael molovinsky said...

bob, my optimism is based on a few conversations with lewnes. he seems less defensive and more realistic than those managers usually are. several facade jobs were done very nicely, but i'm not familiar with the cost or reliability of the recipients. i'm familiar with that vacant mansion converted to apartments 40 years ago and now considered for the cooking school. i think that probably should be a tear down.

michael molovinsky said...

sears shopper, yes, i'm familiar with the plans you refer to, i would see the renderings taped to the wall in the office behind the zoning section at city hall. i have omitted in this post how many times the sidewalks were changed out on 7th. bricks to concrete to partial brick to new partial brick, tree changes and recently digging up once more to facilitate the new light standards. the expression "gateway" has been very expensive. but, the hispanic business community has developed a viable section between the 500 and 700 blocks, mostly with no assistance from all these previous expenditures. unfortunately there are inequalities occurring near 7th and hamilton, politically based, where some owners are promoted by the city, and others are being harassed.