Last October, a different council voted down a similar request 6-0. Only Steve Mitchell and Amir Omar cast "no" votes both last October and this week. Bob Townsend switched his no vote to yes. Mark Solomon, who was absent at last October's vote, voted yes this time. Gary Slagel, John Murphy and Bob Macy, who all voted no in October, are gone from the council. Their replacements voted yes this time.
New council, different result. Is this another case of the old rule that elections have consequences? Probably not. After the jump, why.
I think the council reversal is more a case of the city council slowly acknowledging reality. Brick Row isn't ever going to be all that we hoped it was going to be. It can still be an asset for our community, but only if we move on and start making the best of the existing situation. Maybe the turnover on the city council helped speed that process along, but I suspect even the old city council would have eventually done what the new council did this week.
Here's what I had to say on the matter last September. It still pretty much describes my feelings today.
"I just can't get myself worked up on this issue. If the developers say the condo market has dried up and the apartment market is still viable, I'm inclined to go along, not because I think developers are always honest, not because I think apartments are just as attractive as condos, but because I think it's their property and their investment. It benefits no one to force builders to sit on vacant buildings because they were wrong in guessing what the market would be. Sometimes, you have to salvage what you can from a bad investment. And that goes for the city as well as private developers. Besides, apartments do not inevitably lead to blighted neighborhoods. Lax code enforcement does."