Monday, November 5, 2007

Progressive Developer

I caught a bit of WUNC's State of Things while on a noontime errand and got to hear Frank Stasio's interview with Raleigh's Smedes York, a real estate developer and former Raleigh mayor. I wish every developer in Greensboro could listen to it. Here's a link directly to the audio [link]; send it to anyone who might be interested.

York talks about his experience in bringing residential and mixed-use developments to downtown Raleigh, starting in the late 1970s after Raleigh adopted its comprehensive plan in 1979. He thinks the plan was instrumental in helping to guide Raleigh's development more rationally than has happened in Charlotte, where, he says, development is mostly driven by business interests.

I was intrigued by his assertion that Raleigh's growth has benefited from the variety of interest groups that participate in land use decisions, including businesses, neighborhoods, and minority groups. York said that this has forced Raleigh to learn how to reach consensus decisions.

Here in Greensboro, I've been very disappointed that our comprehensive plan has received almost no attention from the entire crop of city council hopefuls, because that plan contains real, practical guidelines about how Greensboro can manage its future infill growth while protecting established neighborhoods.

If we try to follow the plan, I think we'll end up with less traffic congestion, a cleaner environment, better neighborhoods, and a better quality of life. If we don't, we wont.

I think some in our development community -- Robbie Perkins comes to mind -- understand that it's possible to grow according to a comprehensive plan and still make money. Others viscerally oppose any sort of regulation and reflexively fight it. In my view, the latter group tends to dominate the development discourse in Greensboro.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was in Raleigh today while listening to the Staccio/York interview. Ironically, I was driving through his father's Cameron Village while they were talking about the place.

Smedes just seems like the kind of guy I would like to talk with for a good long time.