Isn't It Weird That: Waterfront Park Edition

Never mind the curmudgeonly critique. There's a more basic problem.

By Josh Feit August 26, 2014

Isn't It Weird That ... this happy analysis of the Waterfront Park proposal, which professes to take on the naysayers, deals solely with aesthetics and not with mathematics (i.e., how the project pencils out).

His cheerleading sidesteps the specifics by challenging the aesthetic curmudgeons, but not the financial realists.

The post, by real estate exec Mike Meisenbach (and linked today on the urbanista blogosphere by the UrbanResolve tumblr), takes on two Crosscut posts that cleared their throats about design in specific and money in general. Meisenbach derides their aesthetic criticisms as nitpicking and dismisses their (admittedly generic) warnings about money with this bit of naivete: "[T]he work involved reinjects tax dollars back into the communities in the form of construction jobs and a trickle-down of material sales associated."

As for aesthetics, we too think the rosy renderings are unrealistic (and ignored Seattle's awful weather), but it's the specifics of the money—the subject of two previous Isn't It Weirds—that could doom the yuppie Waterfront plans. 

The financial problem is simple: About $200 to $300 million of the $1.8 billion project is supposed to come from a Local Improvement District. LIDs work like this: Local property owners pay into a fund for improvements, based on the anticipated increase in their own property values. However, with Bertha stuck, it's not clear that the tunnel project, which anchors the waterfront project, is going forward. This complicates sign-off on the LID. (*Property owners can undo a LID imposed by the city if enough of them—a contingent owning 60 percent of the property value in the LID—petition to repeal the LID.) 

Meisenbach sidesteps those specifics by challenging the aesthetic curmudgeons, but not the financial realists.  


Filed under
Show Comments