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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

This Thing Could Blow Up in Our Face

Saturday, December 30, 2006

NPH lives in a Heartland urban center that has been flailing for years. Not only have the city's residence had to watch downtown languish in irrelevance while our neighbors to the east and west enjoy "revitalization" of their downtowns, but there has been little hope for improvement throughout. Major proposals were carried by crackpots who voters simply couldn't get with, and those proposals that actually did get planned often ended up dying on the vine.

But today downtown is buzzing with construction. H&R Block and the KC Star have built new complexes, a new arena is being constructed with hopes for an NBA or NHL tenant (the WNBA is much more likely), and the KC Power and Light District, a massive retail complex that hopes to draw shoppers from all over the region, is also underway. Add to that the endless rows of "urban lofts" and condominiums that are popping up everywhere, and you've got a certified boom.

But NPH is a little worried. First, any downtown reivatilization carries with it a process of gentrification, as cool middle class white people move to be closer to the cool bars, thereby displacing many of the poor, non-white people who live there already. Obviously it's much more complicated than that, and it is precisely our awareness of the complication that makes us nervous. We're afraid, ultimately, that revitalization happens along fairly predictable lines of racially homogenous, college-educated folks who can afford the new rents and nightly bar tabs.

But also there is the concern about this particular city and the long record of failures it boasts. That record is highlighted in a Kansas City Business Journal article this week that points out that the KC Power & Light District is projecting a very slim margin for error. NPH will let readers take in the article for themselves and voice only this concern. If we've learned anything living in this city, it's that Murphy's Law has legal effect here, so that anything possible that could go wrong will. Especially when it comes to major planned projects.

Five years from now the "revitalization" that the city is currently enjoying could turn out to be a trainwreck of wealthy developers and hubristic city leaders. Or it could be a beacon of creativity and commerce to make the region gawk.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:11 AM

2 Comments:

Rocky,

Don't worry about the poor non-white people who won't be able to afford the new upscale downtown. By the time it's super nice and my rich white friends want to live there ... the Light Rail will be ready to rapidly move the lower class people back and forth into downtown and the surrounding areas with a cleaner, greener, non-dependence on imported oil, giving KC a stronger economy all while crushing a dying and poor suburban area where all the poor people from downtown will be shipped and relocated with the promise they can come back downtown to clean, sweep, and fix the problems my new friends will have living in downtown.

CB
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 9:15 AM  
Billig,

Masterful. Simply masterful distortion of reality.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 12:54 PM  

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