Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ring any bells?

Beneath a BRAC story in the Post today is this little blurb:

In trying to create a more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly Town Center, General Growth Properties Inc. is getting its inspiration from places near and far.

The Chicago-based mall developer, which owns most of Town Center's undeveloped and commercial properties, has visited towns comparable in size to Columbia from Charlottesville to Racine, Wis. -- to gather ideas, said Douglas Godine, the vice president and general manager overseeing Columbia's development and redevelopment.

"We're trying to collect a repository of what works," Godine said at a meeting of the Columbia Association board last week. "Some of those things may not work at all."

Since General Growth purchased the Rouse Co. nearly two years ago, it has been engaged in a spirited debate about downtown's future. Godine said the company is setting up a panel of experts in various disciplines to generate ideas for Town Center. The task force should be meeting in two to four months, and some of those meetings will be public, Godine said.

First, I really like that they’re looking elsewhere to see what works and what doesn’t. Nothing good every comes out of a vacuum (trust me, I’ve looked).

More intriguing, however, is the part I’ve bolded. Does that sound familiar? I know it’s taboo to say nice things about General Growth, but using the “panel of experts in various disciplines” approach -- the same one that Jim Rouse used in planning Columbia -- is a good move on their part. I think it shows that maybe, perhaps a little, the old Rouse principles survive. Godine, after all, was around back then, too.

So, do these efforts garner GGP at least a little good will or a little more trust from the community?

I would say so. But I’ve also been called an apologist.

What say you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd say it garners a little goodwill, depending on the disciplines in which they have expertise. After all, they could be experts in confronting townsfolk, skyscrapers, and increasing traffic light density or they could be experts in sociology, architecture, green design, modern transit, environmental coexistence and sustainability, etc.