Friday, November 10, 2017

Bringing in the experts

About a month ago, an entity known as the "LSU Real Estate and Facilities Foundation" announced its intention to start up the next round of the What Do We Do With Charity Hospital game.  To show how very serious they are, they announced also they would spend an undisclosed amount of money on a "land use study" to be conducted by the Urban Land Institute.

The Institute's services begin with an assemblage of out of national real estate consultants and investors with little to no understanding of the historical political or cultural context of the building and neighborhood. Because that is how true expertise is gained. The team of experts spent a full five days in New Orleans  including one full day of "interviewing stakeholders" before making some announcements at a press event today. They learned some interesting facts!

 The panel also had some things to teach us about the importance of good branding and also the importance of getting people "to the table."
"Consistency is important in branding," said John Walsh, the Texas real estate consultant leading the presentation said.

The group of 10 volunteers spent five days in town — and a day interviewing local stakeholders — at LSU's behest, and former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said getting representatives from LSU and Tulane University, among other institutions, to the table is crucial.

They still don't know what to do with the building but, being the land use experts, they do have some ideas to share about how wealthy developers would best like to have public money and resources gifted to them. They would very much like it if we created a TIF district for them, for example. Or yet another PILOT. Or any of the fascinating ideas listed here. 

I, myself, am intrigued by "Other Economic Development Incentives."  We truly are limited only by our own imaginations. Anyone who has paid any attention to the mayor's race knows how excited LaToya Cantrell is about finding new "incentives" for developers so strap in. 

And remember, the ULI group is only here to tell us how best to help the rich get richer. They won't presume to tell us what should happen to the building in the process.  So remember to dream big.

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