jennifer's blog

"A Vision Is Not The Same Thing As A Plan": Notes From the Plan Philly Presentation On Central Delaware Riverfront Development

The literature handed out at today's presentation of the PennPraxis/Plan Philly plan for Central Delaware riverfront development spends a page distinguishing a "plan" from a "vision." Plans "go into serious detail and specifics," "become automatic law" and/or "fully determine implementation strategies. Visions do none of these things. We were in the realm of visions--and, when Harris Steinberg of the University of Pennsylvania was speaking, grand heroic turns of phrase.

A number of exciting ideas were put out, and some near-incomprehensible ones (though it was reported to me that much of the plan was clearer in workshop). Here are assorted notes on the plan, with apologies for the stream-of-consciousness quality. Although that should give you a sense of what it was like to be there.

Oh, Technology: "Interactive Shooting Map" Now Updated With The 2004 Shootings From 2006

Two thousand and four red dots, click here. E.g. my corner, 10/8, 9 pm.

You can sort by age, race, sex and time. There's also one for murders.

Why I Am Proud of Going to Temple (And Penn, Not So Much)

I want to resurrect a few threads of discussion.

Here, Dan posed questions about the evolving role of Temple University, as it expands and fuels redevelopment of the North Broad corridor and as it evolves towards a more selective institution.

And this thread ended up sparking debate over when and how you intervene to improve the city's youth as a workforce.

Dan ended up unsure whether Temple even had the capacity to serve many of the city's youth, were its inclusivity preserved:

Get off The Internet, I'll Meet You In The Street ... Maria Quiñones Sánchez on Reshaping Neighborhoods to Reduce Crime

Maria Quiñones Sánchez has a brief--and oddly titled--piece in this week's City Paper, "Citizens' Arrest: Why don't we start a civilian foot patrol?"

She's responding to the mayoral crime position papers (discussed here).

Really, to the extent her thesis involves "civilian foot patrols," it is on a broader, almost symbolic register.

As we move forward with a strong anti-crime agenda, let's remember that it's not locking our communities down that will stem the violence. Enticing all the many good, law-abiding citizens back out will.

She thinks we need to get people back out onto the street, and focuses on the experiential difference between rich neighborhoods and poor.

Opportunities and Perils of a Casino-Funded Anti-Blight RDA (Or, Object Lessons from Across the Delaware)

This morning's New York Times described a sort of foxes and henhouses turn to New Jersey's "Casino Reinvestment Development Authority."

The Authority is funded by casino revenue and is the only agency of its kind in the country. After the casinos pay the required 8% of gross to a state fund that uses the money for various social problems, they have the option of paying another 2.5% to that fund, or instead to contribute 1.25% to the RDA to be used for various redevelopment and anti-blight initiatives (e.g. "In its initial years, the authority focused largely on developing affordable multifamily housing in the dilapidated Inlet section of Atlantic City, spending an estimated $130 million on the effort.").

In recent years, claiming hotel room shortages and the need to compete with nearby states that have legalized gambling (hey!), the RDA has started shifting money back to the casino industry in the form of various improvement projects:

"The authority has subsidized construction of 13,000 hotel rooms in the city, 800 of them planned for a tower under construction at the Trump Taj Mahal. The agency spent $3.7 million for an IMAX theater to be built at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, where its grants also helped finance three floors of elegant stores, restaurants and a spa. An additional $26 million went to help build the House of Blues and to spruce up the facade at Showboat.

The agency has also pitched in for “parking lot beautification” at Showboat and road signs for Resorts and the Taj Mahal. And in 2005 it put $4.5 million toward express weekend train service between Manhattan and Atlantic City, to be provided by a partnership involving the Borgata, Caesars and Harrah’s, in conjunction with New Jersey Transit."

That's the cautionary tale part, I guess. More optimistically, the article made me think about the possibility of thinking beyond negotiated community benefit agreements towards ways that casino development (if the good fight ends as good fights often do) actually could be deployed in service of some larger, civically-derived, plan to develop the waterfront.


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