Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Make Waves

Another post from the Now, This is What I'm Talking About files.

I've long said that to get people to come to DTL, you have to offer things other places are not. These things are destinations. Going with the same kinds of offerings found in other cities and towns in the region probably won't help, because why should folks come here for what they have near them?

This approach can be applied to just about anything, including dining, arts, entertainment... with just a smattering of the familiar for the members of the crowd who may have been reluctantly dragged along and less adventurous locals.

I believe we'll draw more people by making waves, as artist Constance Hockaday has done with her Boggsville Boatel and Boat-In Theater in Far Rockaway, Queens.

The Ramones famously sang, "It's not far, not hard to reach" but the truth is, it's a rather remote outpost of NYC and it's not the vacation destination it was in the 1800's anymore - by a longshot. So, why is the Boatel booked solid? What's pulling 'em from Brooklyn to the Rockaways?

Simple. It's a bunch of cobbled together boats. It's affordable. Its quasi-legal and/or loopholed status makes it cool for some. They show movies and host lectures. The whole thing is supposed to be art.

I'm not saying to copy what they do. That would be wrong, and also not fulfilling the purpose of offering something different.  I'm saying we need to innovate, because it works - and it's fun. Who wants to innovate with me?

Here's links to others talking about what I'm talking about:

In the Village Voice

Flux Factory post


And now for the obligatory..

Monday, July 4, 2011

Now This is what I'm Talking About!

Keep your suburban out of my urban!

I just caught this post over on UniversalHub.com - Not everybody wants to live in the City that always sleeps: Neighbors implore developer to come up with bigger project.

The flood of former suburbanites returning to cities has unintentional consequences. People who have grown up on quiet streets suddenly realize they're not compatible with all the hustle and bustle of urban life and begin to tame the city. The bars and cafes they moved there for and used to frequent, become the annoying neighbors they call the cops on at night. Ordinances are passed that not only hurt cafes and restaurants, but the arts and all that's interesting - everything that revived the area in the first place.

It's a big "mixed-use" failure. Salem has curtailed its hours. Not all is congenial in Lynn City Hall's favorite waterfront yard-stick, Quincy's Marina Bay (we can do better than that). Some lameness has even been imposed on NYC's Lower East Side. You know what? Not every neighborhood needs to be a family neighborhood. Let's have a variety of neighborhoods, for everyone!

But weren't classic urban neighborhoods always full of shops and restaurants on the ground and apartments above? They were. They might have been lower rent, or occupied by the area shop owners. People might have been more accepting that this was life in the city. Or maybe, they were just used to it. What's different now, is that the real estate boom and bust brought the condos, and gosh darn it people paid big bucks for them and they're going to have life the way they want it.

I bought a condo in a downtown, too. But, I fully expected city life and that's what I'm going to fight for. Downtown Lynn is perfectly situated for it and has the right kind of built environment. I hope Lynn takes a lesson from successes and failures elsewhere, and understands the recent blowback against the suburbanization of our urban spaces. A little extra planning (and soundproofing) can go a long way in creating a successful "mixed-use" area, as well.

And here in Downtown Lynn, we're saying no more VNA's - I mean the office park-style structure they're putting up in DTL without storefronts. The organization's cool, but their new structure is ruining the chance to rebuild/restore our entrance to DTL and outright ignores the recommendations of our Market Street Vision plan because it is anti-urban. Next time, we'll take inspiration from the South End and put up stronger opposition.