Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Urban News Vol. 35

Neil Bauman is a Webster resident whose son Eric made a fortune compiling goofy videos on the internet (amid accusations of copyright violations) and selling the company generating an enormous financial windfall. The Baumans are now in the real estate development business having already announced a project that I was critical of, the Centers at Webster Village. Most of my criticism came from the lack of concrete plans and a general description that would plop more automobile-catering suburban development patterns in the middle of a walkable classic village center. I felt his 'group' didn't understand the realities facing the world going forward and that he'd ruin the village atmosphere in the process of making a tremendously poor personal investment.

Mr. Bauman is making news again today with a privately funded alternative to the performing arts component of the much criticized Renaissance Square project. After suffering through years of frustration as a property owner constantly under the threat of eminent domain seizure, he is positing that a privately financed $50 million housing/retail project right on the corner of Main and Clinton is the highest and best use for this downtown junction.

And he's right. Yep, I said it. I completely agree with this course of action.

Looking at only one photo of a model of the proposal, I think the EBaum group is on the right track. Yes, I see what looks like a car port on the west end of the Main Street frontage, but this may double as a delivery entrance since the rear 'alleyway' would ostensibly have significant bus traffic. Clinton Ave. gets substantially better treatment than it did under any Ren Square proposal and what looks like a false conglomeration of four or five narrow, but tall traditional city buildings are a tremendous front for one of the busiest city intersections. I also like what looks like a raised 3rd story courtyard to be shared by residents, campus, and bus terminal patrons.

The news stories out there on the topic are combative in nature, with Mr. Bauman criticizing the lack of progress and inconsideration of the Main-Clinton board and the board firing back that Bauman is attempting to artificially increase his property value ahead of sale. I won't get into key points like I usually do (other than to say that a temporary lawn at the corner of Main and Clinton is not an acceptable development solution, not even for a day), but there are some details in each worth reading. I will certainly continue to monitor and comment on this situation as details arise.

by Rocco Vertuccio, RNews

1 comment:

Urban news and gossip said...

thanks for sharing this volume.