Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brick Row Hits Brick Wall

Brick Row
Brick Row

 

"I will admit: it is fun to watch a city council rake a developer over the coals"
-- RT @imccanntx on Twitter

The city council is Richardson's. The developer is David Gleeson, representative for Richardson's Brick Row development. The fun is, perhaps, a guilty pleasure that Richardson may pay for later.

The city council turned down a request by the developers to change the mix of residential units in Brick Row, eliminating condos that won't sell and increasing the number of apartments that have a better chance of attracting tenants. Ian McCann has the details in The Dallas Morning News Richardson blog.

After the jump, looking at this from different angles.


To the extent that developers sold the council a bait and switch project, promising more than they knew the market would bear, all along intending to come back later (meaning today) and get council approval to change the mix, shame on them. They underestimated public opposition to apartments.

To the extent that the project is simply a victim of the overall economic downturn in general and the bust of the housing market in particular, shame on the city council. Blaming the victim may be the politically popular thing to do, but it won't turn Brick Row into an economically viable project.

From this distant vantage point, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

For the sake of the future prosperity of Richardson, I hope all -- the developers, the council, the public -- can work together in good faith to rescue this project. The new plan has to balance the desire for revitalization of that neighborhood with current market realities. If we insist on the original vision of relatively expensive townhouses and condos, then we are likely to end up with vacant lots and vacant buildings instead. That may punish the developer, but it would punish the rest of Richardson as well. A failed project serves no one.

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