We’re back. All I can say is, we’re back. And on a busy news day in Syracuse’s economic development world. Let’s look at the two big stories.
First, the state Canal Corp. is apparently abandoning Congel’s Ditch, Jr. – the proposed $230 million redevelopment of the Inner Harbor. The Canal Corp. announced it was suspending negotiations with the Pyramid/Destiny spinoff company that had proposed to purchase and develop the land around the Inner Harbor, for mixed used purposes. The Canal Corp. says by the beginning of 2007, it will have considered two alternative proposals from Norstar USA and the Sutton Companies.
My guess? This will get tangled up in criminations, recriminations, and re-recriminations.
Which, of course, is a shame, because the Inner Harbor physically would connect Franklin Square to the Carousel/Regional Market/Transportation Center/Stadium zone, essentially creating a redevelopment corridor from downtown to the shore of the Lake.
Sigh. To paraphrase John Lennon, imagine there’s no Destiny USA – well, actually you don’t have to imagine. You have to do the opposite of imagine. I guess that would be recognizing reality. But as I think Bob Niedt was driving at today on Storefront, imagine if “Destiny” wasn’t greedily dominating the economic development agenda in Syracuse today. So much could - and I emphasize could – be different…
In the other big story, upon the recommendation of the selection committee, Mayor Driscoll announced the official choice for the Connective Corridor design team –Field Operations with CLEAR. Ok, great news, the C2 is going forward. But let’s do our due diligence on the design team:
Field Operations – a consultancy led by James Corner, chair of the Landscape Architecture Dept. at the University of Pennsylvania. Seems like Mr. Corner has some serious street cred, but I’m concerned by his firm’s website – it’s obnoxiously designed, with a “look what we can do” style, while practically inaccessible to the casual user. Hope the C2 design will fare better…
ARUP – this a serious, global design and engineering consultancy; I think we can feel pretty good about their involvement in the project.
L'Observatoire International – a lighting company that, by the barebones website, might be just getting off the ground. Still, they look professional, at least.
Donald J. Leopold – an ecology consultant and professor at SUNY ESF here in town. One of my sisters happens to be a close friend of Dr. Leopold’s son, but all I really know about him is that he is exceeding intelligent, and is an expert in dendrology, which, as everyone knows, is the study of trees. As a distinguished faculty member at ESF, and a landscape expert, Dr. Leopold seems a good fit with the team.
Solid credentials all, but the proof of the team will be in the design, and the execution. I’ve said it before, the Connective Corridor could be a tremendous asset for the city, combining practical transportation solutions with a healthy dollop of art and culture. But if it turns into an esoteric, post-modern, inaccessible…thing…well, let’s just work with the assumption that that won’t happen. For anyone who’s stuck with us during our couple week hiatus – thanks! We’re back at full steam (for real this time).