Thank you for your comments. You make some very good points. We might not see things the same way. But I do appreciate the time you spent to respond to my thoughts, and there is certainly a fair basis for the comments you shared. Even though you called me a "capitalist ass", I genuinely respected your arguments.
I do not know who you are, but it is too bad you have to be so caustic and personal with many of your comments. I suppose your posting name is appropriate, but Is it really necessary to be that way? You do not know the full back-story or facts of things you say about me and others. Your personal attacks might be what you want to think about someone or what you have heard from someone with an axe to grind, but they do not benefit the discussion of 751; and they are nasty remarks that contain little if any truth.
If you want to make personal attacks on people (which isn't kind or appropriate) then at the least do not hide behind a generic posting name. It would probably be wiser for me to remain anonymous. But I was hopeful that decent human beings with perhaps contrary opinions can carry on a debate in a more adult-like manner.
The overwhelming majority of comments on this issue are from individuals who disagree with my opinions and those of a handful of others who have posted in support of 751 South. But, despite their strong, unwavering, opposing opinions, they have been generally pretty respectful.
While I think it is obviously fair to express different opinions about the issue at hand, getting personal is inappropriate and serves no good for anyone. While I might make a general comment that upsets the opinion, general perspectives, politics, or position on a local matter such as 751 South and its related issues, I do not personally attack individual posters.
Other than one or two regulars who go by their full name, I have no idea who any of you are and have no intention of trying to find out because I do not make personal attacks. I simply enjoy the debate and active commentary about an interesting and heated issue. Comment all you want on how you might think my opinions have no basis in fact, are general and old fashioned, conservative and against your principles, etc.
I learn from having an opinion in the minority of those commenting at this site about this issue. Maybe you can learn to be more tolerant and less combative towards those who have a different view than yours or are participating professionally in their capacity to represent the developer and his team..
Now to answer some of your questions or reply to your comments...
For the umpteenth time (posting both here and BCR blog ... but to be fair, you might not have seen my other posts there), I don't get ANYTHING out of this project. If anything, I have gotten nothing but grief from people who seem to have disdain for me because I dare to express an opinion contrary to the majority of those making comments at this site and at Bull City Rising. It would be far easier for me to stay quiet and not share my views because I get little thanks and a lot of nasty comments fired in my direction.
If you are talking about "getting" anything of direct tangible value? ... I simply think it's a good idea. For goodness sake, does somebody have to have a "corrupt" motive to support 751 South? The answer, of course, is no. There are many people, like me, who would like it to be built because we think it would be an attractive addition to south Durham, because we think it will benefit Durham economically (despite Barry's arguments ... yet I still respect his opinions), because we would like to see a local school near our neighborhood that our kids can attend without having to be bussed or drive several miles away, etc., etc. One of the primary reasons more people do not express their support of it is because they don't want to be the target of negative remarks from those that disagree.
So, those are the things I would "get" out of 751 South being built. I am not an employee of anyone associated with the developer or any of his associated designers, engineers, lawyers, etc. I do not bill the developer for time I spend trying to defend his plan while typing comments like these. I am simply a regular individual who thinks it is a good idea for the development to get approved. If you disagree with me -- fine. If you want to try and convince me I'm wrong -- fine. But people like Patrick, Shane, myself, and others who happen to come along and defend this project either by making comments here, on another blog, or at a public meeting should not be chewed up as some waste product because you disagree with our opinion. I can assure you we are all good, pleasant and nice people that should be treated with respect.
Finally, why do you get so upset by some of my comments and "reasoned" arguments. Do I need to conduct a formal study before I make a generic comment? My statement that "nearly every American and Durham resident prefers to drive his or her own car, whether bus service exists or does not exist" is based on my own common sense. If you disagree and think I am incorrect, then fine, tell me why I am off-base.
Probably in much of Europe people would prefer to use mass transit over driving their own car -- their population centers are historically much more dense because, in part, they are much smaller countries and in part because they are older countries that built their cities in concentrated areas because the car and train hadn't been invented when most of those cities evolved. In America it's much different. We are a younger country and our cities are much more sparsely populated (generally) and spread out. Probably in New York City most of its residents prefer mass transit. But it is practical if not necessary because of the extreme density of that area and limited ability to expand roads because of the existing development.
Maybe in your Durham social circles a majority of your friends would prefer mass transit. In my social circles that is definitely not the opinion of the majority. But I would bet my life that an overwhelming majority of Americans would prefer to drive themselves from point A to point B rather than riding in a bus or train. It doesn't necessarily mean it is good that most Americans feel that way. You probably think Americans should think more like Europeans regarding mass transit. But American culture is still one of independence ... one that loves to own their own vehicle and blast the radio or listen to a book on CD and "feel the road" with their sports car, etc. It's just the reality.
If the only time someone could make a strong statement to argue a point or try and project a reasoned argument was when they supported it with a study or link to some article, then nobody would ever make any interesting comments or provocative statements. I think that would be kind of boring. But, there is a difference between a provocative or general statement and a personal attack. If, however, I have made a personal attack in any of my comments, then I apologize and it was inadvertent. Enough said. Thank you and enjoy your weekend.
You must not be very experienced in the business or political world. When coming from opposing sides of an issue and it looks like there will be a "fight", neither side voluntarily "gives in" (even if they have the ability to do so) as an initial move. It becomes a "game" of swapping "pawns" when necessary -- a real life chess game.
If the developer had given all of these latest commitments 2 years ago, then the opposition might have praised him and gladly encouraged the development to be approved without a fight -- that is one scenario.
However, a second scenario would have likely been that the opposition to his project would have continually pushed for even MORE commitments. So, by holding back, the developer is not pressed to continually give in to more and more.
One could ask the question from the developer's point of view. The developer could say why didn't prominent members of the opposition come to me and say: "If you commit to X, Y, and Z that is all we will demand and then fully support you in this project so that it will be easy for you to get it passed all of the local government hurdles."? Well, the opposition would obviously respond that we are not going to do that because then that is showing all of our cards. We want to press the developer as hard and for as long as we can so that eventually we wear him out and get him to commit to not only X, Y, and Z ... but also to A, B, and C!
So, you can see it goes both ways. Neither side in this game of politics and business is going to give in unless there seems to be a strategically smart or necessary reason to do so. Each side wants to "hold back" to get as much (or give as little) as it has to in order to get the ultimate conclusion for which it is pressing.
It doesn't matter if the developer can "afford" to commit to an extra commitment or two. Actually committing to additional elements might be "affordable" but there is still a cost associated with it. The developers additional commitments constitute additional restrictions which will either limit the potential profit or require him to charge more for his leases and sales, thereby passing these costs to the general public and end buyers or lessors.
Nothing in life ever comes with absolutely no cost. There is always a tangible or intangible cost to any decision and commitment that is made. Consequently, two parties dealing at arms-length will always battle to achieve the most for their position at the least cost to them.
This really is pretty basic economic and market analysis stuff. I am getting frustrated having to write about it and inform the general public. I'm really beginning to wonder what people are learning in school these days! Certainly they are not paying attention in civics and economics courses.
Swabby -- If the developer didn't think there would be a demand for his project then he wouldn't be trying so hard to get it approved, and he certainly would not have even come up with the project idea from the start if he thought a lack of demand or need for it would be the likely reality once it is built.
You have to recognize that this is not a project that will just appear from the sky like magic and be completed in 1 - 2 years time. If approved, it will be a multi-phase project that probably takes 2-3 years just for an initial phase to be complete and then a likely 2-3 years for each successive phase to come "on-line". 10 - 12 years is the probable window of construction before the entire project is complete. So you cannot look at current economic conditions and office or retail vacancies and the current residential home market and place that into the context of what it means for 751 South's demand.
For instance, in the late 1970s the U.S. economy was in the doldrums and that lasted into the early 1980s, but by the late '80s our economy was booming. Similarly, the early 1990s saw a moderate slow-down in the overall economy. But by the late 1990s everyone knows the economy was roaring with the new "technology economy". Things took a bit of a dive around early/mid-2000 as the tech "bubble" burst and then 9/11 caused additional trauma to the overall economy. But, by the mid-2000s the economy was again strong. Now it is weak. But, you can see that over the last 30 years as just a recent example, the economy rolls up and down in cycles. About every 5-10 years the cycle shifts from bad to good and so on with varying stops between bad and good here and there.
So, simply based on history, the time that 751 South is "built-out" (in roughly a decade) it is likely that the overall economy will be much stronger than it is currently. Since these projects take a long time to build, one has to base the demand for them not on current need but on projected future demand.
Moreover, even if the U.S. economy were to never get back to its historically stronger footing of annual growth in the 3.5 - 5+% range (GDP), the Triangle in general is expected to be an area of the U.S. that sees a significant increase in population over the next decade. Durham, alone, is expected to see a flush of an estimated 100,000 additional residents by 2020.
Consequently, your comments that "[D]urham needs more expensive housing and offices like a hole in the head. [T]here are empty houses and offices all over." is short-sighted and does not take the realities of the future projected economic demand into play. Your statement might be accurate in the present and immediate short-term future 1-2 years. But 751 South is a project that is basing need on a longer term horizon.
Finally, the "want of money" is not a bad thing. Obviously the driving force of most business development is for the business, the developer, the investor, etc. to make money. Without the reward of a profit in exchange for hard work and risking personal assets and investment, very little would get accomplished anywhere in the United States or the world. Profit might seem like a bad thing to some, but the bottom line is it is necessary to encourage investment and to fill demand and bring innovation to our world.
Some of you folks just will never be satisfied. If the developer promised to pay everyone's property tax for two years, you'd say he is buying support. If he promised to pave the streets with gold bricks you'd say it's a wasteful use of resources and will cause excessive strip mining in South Africa.
I'm just waiting for someone to say that putting in a playground and pool will serve as an "attractive nuisance" that will likely cause injuries to children. Good grief.
It would be a nice gesture to see some people express an element of gratitude for this extensive list of additional commitments, and at what will be a considerable expense to the developer.
Moving on ... This bus transit service idea still gets to me. Why are so many people who read this magazine concerned about buses/transit? If it loses money to the tune of $400,000/year, then perhaps there isn't the market for it or the riding fees should be higher. Durham and most places (with the rare exception of perhaps NYC, Washington, D.C., and perhaps Chicago) do not have the density of population and cultural history of mass transit to make it independently profitable, necessary, or desirable.
The overwhelming majority of Americans love the independence and flexibility that comes from owning their own automobile. And most Americans can afford to purchase some kind of car, motorcycle, or moped with a minimum of financial discipline. Cars (used and new) are currently cheaper than they have been in decades relative to the average household income.
I'll answer my own question -- This push for bus transit is merely an attempt by a small minority of people who want to make the rest of us live the way you imagine is an ideal world and the "correct" way to live. "Ideal" worlds or significant cultural changes do not become reality by forcing them to be implemented and then hoping others will accept them as a normal and regular course of everyday living. Doing such is expensive and wasteful. Rather, they happen by a natural demand and need for them.
Clearly, if there is not a significant demand for bus service to 751 South or any other particular location in and around Durham, then it will be a mode of transportation that is best left to the free market or it will be a tax drain on our city and, hence, taxpayers.
The bottom line is nearly every American and Durham resident prefers to drive his or her own car, whether bus service exists or does not exist. So let's think more logically about this pet issue of many Independent readers. You might think it's a good idea and that people should ride a bus. But, frankly, there aren't many who have to, and an even smaller number who want to ride a bus.
Neal E. and Samiha:
Thanks, Samiha. It looks like you answered Neal E.'s question for me. I don't know how/why committed elements 19 and 20 were inadvertently left off of the 751 development plan. I am in favor of 751 south and knew about those commitments b/c I asked the developer and he had told me that he committed to them quite a while ago.
The technical whys and why-nots to explain why they were left off the version shown at that link is beyond my pay grade (which is $0, by the way).
Neal E -- Thanks for your comment/question. I have been swamped with work the past few days. I will reply in a day or two when I have more time so long as I remember. Thanks for your patience.
Thank you for a fair post stated in what I am interpreting as a calm and measured manner. I do have a question and one comment.
First, I know as a fact that the developer has committed to the largest retail space being 75,000 square feet. That was a commitment made I believe the week before the July BOCC meeting. I am certain of it.
Perhaps there are other commitments that have been made that people concerned about this development are not even aware of but have actually been made. I do not follow every last detail of this 751 South issue. It is not my life. So I don't know all the intricate ins-and-outs. I am admitting to that. Many of my comments are more general and "common sense" in nature. If I know something is a fact I will state it clearly. If more of a logical conclusion, I will state my analysis and move on from there to my conclusion or provide a summary of rational reasons why my opinion should be given weight.
Nonetheless, I am absolutely certain of the 75,000 s.f. retail limitation. It would appear that some of those opposing this 751 development have old information that has not been updated.
My question - Why is having sidewalks on both sides of the street so important to you? This is a genuine question. I'm not trying to be a smart-alec. My thoughts are this regarding this sidewalk issue:
1. I don't know of any recent developments in Durham that have sidewalks on both sides of the street. It seems to be more of a standard to have them on just one side of the street.
2. At any rate, it would seem most people concerned about environmental impacts would prefer a development with sidewalks on only one side of the street because that minimizes impervious surface area.
3. And it isn't that necessary to have sidewalks on both sides of the street. So long as they are on one side, why does it really matter?
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