Monday, July 15, 2019

Deja Do-Over

If it feels like we've been here before it's because we have. Dial the Way-Back-Machine to 2011 and look up the Dunwoody Village Master Plan. Now you do have to wonder how much this cost and why it didn't even endure for a decade because now the City is shoveling more money into what is being called a Master Plan Update. This is like building a McMansion by tearing down all but the side wall of the basement and then calling it a "renovation" yet this "update" leaves almost nothing untouched or intact.

Some of this is explained by the context of the original master plan which was created when the City was relatively young, politically naive and not yet unduly influenced by outside economic forces. But now, when a developer wants the overlay in the dustbin and demands a building with floor-to-ceiling windows, stacked stone and other trendy veneers the parrots down at City Hall begin squawking "vibrant" incessantly. But this "update" is a great bit of theatre, a theatre City Hall will not vote to tear down. It is the embodiment of "practical impossibility" as it demands conversions of private property to public roads and paths (keep in mind that this City's idea of a "trail" is a super-highway lane of concrete) that is both prohibitively expensive, politically "unattractive" and more disruptive than desirable. At least if you live around here. But it may be attractive to those who will cash in on the re-development and keep in mind the very first impediment to this plan is "long-term property owners" who will have to be sated (or just pushed aside) in favor of new developers. Not likely to happen.

So what is going on? Well there will likely be limited re-development and things will need to be pushed aside to satisfy the developers' demands. The impediment in that case is the existing Village Overlay. Basically they are demanding trends that are getting close to their use-by date: new urbanism (being displaced by Avalon-type developments) and a faux-post-industrial look that peaked a couple years back. One has to wonder how long before a wave of developers descends pushing a "Williamsburg Style" as "vibrant" and "retro-trendy." Then there is the high pressure sales job--the kind that would make a Florida condo-pitch seem tame. When they are trying that hard they are either selling you something you don't need or they are distracting you from what they are really doing. Or both.

But it is the "Who's Responsible" slide that is the most odious, the most insulting, the most offensive. This characterizes "The Public" (us) as doddering old fools unable to comprehend what is going on and so stupid we are easily bamboozled by a myriad of special interests, all the while the aficionados of neo-urbanism (traffic enginerrs) are positioning themselves at the same level of honor and integrity as Girl Scouts. With an air of arrogant condescension they demean us as readily manipulated (by everyone but them) idiots and by commissioning this team and using OUR money to pay them, our elected officials are saying exactly the same thing.

Shame on them! For what they have done and for what they intend to do.