Jonathan Parker | Indy Week

Jonathan Parker 
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Re: “Two views of ever-changing Hillsborough Street

Hillsborough can both accommodate growth, and maintain most of its character, but the key piece is prioritizing and protecting the key assets on the street that make it what it is. Most of the new development has generally been positive. The street needs new residents and businesses to thrive and support local businesses--retail follows rooftops as they say. I doubt few will miss what Stanhope development will replace.

But the key to finding the right balance is preserving the key assets (building stock, businesses) that make Hillsborough Street a place worth visiting. Local institutions like Cup-a-Joe, Mitch's Tavern, Players Retreat, and Pantanas, etc need to be protected. It's sad we lost Sadlack's. Some will call it progress and some a travesty. Maybe Sadlack's will thrive in their new location and maybe it won't be too much of a loss. If we lose too many more institutions and the buildings that house them the soul of the place will be gone.

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Posted by Jonathan Parker on 10/27/2014 at 12:16 PM

Re: “Thursday morning read: the national trend influencing the Triangle's apartment/condo boom

Your point about affordable housing is very true. There must be a discussion about affordable housing as a part of a larger conversation about growth and its implications. As much as I appreciate the Indy's coverage of these issues, you tend to focus on preservation of existing affordable housing as the primary solution to this challenge and it usually gets covered in isolation. Your coverage tends to also highlight neighborhood development issues as told by existing residents who often fear growth and don't want to see new units come to their back yard. There is often the undertone of wanting or hoping that growth does not come and that growth can't add value to a community. Growth pressures and concerns about it are natural and understandable but you need to also tell the other side of that same story to give readers the full picture.

As the Times notes, the market is shifting and Millennials tend to want to rent and often prefer an urban location. The Triangle is also an attractive place to live, which accentuates the impact of the market trends locally. Growth is continuing to come and you cannot stop it. We can't erect a wall and dare people to climb it to get in. This brings up broader questions. How will the area manage this growth? More growth is now coming to places like Downtown Durham and Raleigh than in recent memory. Certainly preserving affordable units is important part of the equation, but so is adding market rate units, which can help finance subsidized units. If the community pushes back on adding market rate units in a given area, where will the newcomers go instead and what will the impact be if that happens on that are in someone else's back yard? Will we still be able to have affordable housing if market rate units are discouraged in desirable places? Given there's so much demand for urban living in a relatively few places (downtowns and university-adjacent neighborhoods), why not talk about the lack of a wide variety of walkable communities in the Triangle for people to choose from and the impact that is having on affordable housing? Why not talk about the lack of transit options available that might increase access the increasingly less affordable downtown areas?

There is a lot of growth continuing to happen in the suburbs too. Chatham Park was approved near Pittsboro, which proposes to add 60,000 people, increasing the town's population 15 times! Where will those people work, and what will the cost be of transporting them? What is the cost in lost open space and to water quality, etc? Is it conceivable to believe that the Town of Pittsboro can effectively manage 15x growth by itself? Should the town (or any town) even be making the decision about approving such a large scale development by itself? Certainly there has been coverage, but nothing that asks the hard questions about the true costs and impacts. Indy has been covering these issues for years, but has never attempted to tie things together in a way that conveys the real housing/transportation/environment/financial linkages and implications that persist.

Indy is uniquely positioned to be able to ask and get answers to these types of questions, and I hope that in the future you will consider developing a series of stories on this theme that attempt to address the issues of housing and transportation in a more holistic way.

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Posted by Jonathan Parker on 10/23/2014 at 12:39 PM

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