Apartment life, Capitol Centre Foods, Capitol Centre Market, City Life, Madison WI, Metropolitan Place, New Construction, Real Estate Development, Weather, Willy Street Co-op, WISC-TV, WISCONSIN, WKOW, WMTV

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Liberal Scorned. Dick Gregory (1932 – )

As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.

George Washington (1732 – 1799)

What a beautiful day in the neighborhood it is today, folks! WISC-TV Channel3000.com Weather and WKOW Channel 27 Weather Central agree that the temperature is 27* but the sun is shining brightly and I’m inclined to believe WMTV-15 Trueview Weather’s optimistic belief that we will see temperatures of 30* by 2:00 pm has arrived here in the Capitol Square neighborhood. I just had the dog out for a walk and made a run to the store and I tell ya’, compared to last weeks deep freeze, it feels downright balmy out there.

I heard on channel 15 this morning that we got another 1/2 inch accumulation bringing our season total up to over 55 inches! Whoa… After the years of green winters we have had, that is quite a blessing. Of course now it is going to warm up so much rain is forecast and we will lose all that snow coverage which we really need for snowmobiling tourist dollars and farmland health.

Speaking of the store, it’s probably common knowledge by now that Capitol Centre Foods has changed owners. Within the last couple of weeks they have also changed their name to Capitol Centre Market. They’ve also spiffed the place up a bit and are offering a line of wine. I wonder what other changes are in store for when The Willy Street Co-op moves in across the street.

Speaking of the Willy Street Co-op there appears to be a sticky widget or two. and we won’t be seeing Willy Street II opening up here in the neighborhood anytime soon.  Apparently the landlord isn’t holding up his end of the bargain. Might there be a problem with cash flow there?  Rumor has it that Buckingham LLC hasn’t sold many of its pricey condos nor rented out much of the retail space.

You can’t blame the homeless for these problems Mr. Fisher You might be able to blame your lousy attitude and greedy heart.

The people who are going to want to live in downtown Madison are going to be young and upwardly mobile or empty nesters but they will also be lefty liberal, uber socially conscious in this writer’s opinion. Most likely, they’ll want to live downtown because they work downtown and walking to work will be more about their concern about the environment and their commitment to burning fewer carbon emitting fossil fuels than it will be about their convenience. They’ll enjoy the luxuries you’re providing but they’re probably also going to want a landlord who reflects their values.

Just because you build it they don’t always come. Liberals are notoriously picky about who they give their dollars to.

Just my two cents…

B

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Apartment life, Capitol Square, Chiropractor, City Life, City of Trees, Crime, Homeless, Homeless Shelter, Isthmus Daily Page, Madison WI, Metropolitan Place, Panhandling, Personal Health Issues, Police, Poverty, Real Estate Development, State Street, The Isthmus

Gentrification Redux

However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.

Henry David Thoreau

Some time ago I asked whether or not gentrification was a good thing. Frankly, I think it’s a mixed bag. Our neighborhood is becoming more “foot-friendly” and there are more and more daily services moving into downtown Madison. Gentrification does have its pluses if it is done judiciously.

I recently visited Dr Aaron Abplanalp who has opened up shop at Life City in one of the Metropolitan Place retail spaces. He’s a fine addition to the neighborhood and since I need the services of a chiropractor frequently due to some serious injuries to my back, the convenience of having a good doctor within walking distance is a treasure.

At the same time this kind of rhetoric on the part of developers in the downtown area reported on in “The Isthmus Daily Page in late September just smacks classicism and possibly racism since many of these people are people of color:

Teen center eyed as homeless shelter

Developer calls for moving homeless men off the Square
Vikki Kratz on Wednesday 09/26/2007

Madison developer Cliff Fisher is bothered to see homeless men on the Capitol Square. He wishes they were somewhere else.

“People come here and all they see is people standing around, begging for money,” says Fisher, who owns more than a dozen downtown properties. “We have the most beautiful Capitol, and you see people panhandling.”

Granted it isn’t pleasant to be harassed by homeless people for money but I live in Mr Fisher’s neighborhood. I walk the streets past his developments and I interact with these homeless people. For the most part I don’t see them harassing anyone when they’re turned down politely.

What I HAVE seen are people who are publicly intoxicated or strung out on drugs harassing people. That is a different matter entirely. That is a law enforcement problem.

That they also happen to be homeless is incidental. Those people could be removed from the scene if the police were properly enforcing the law.  If people called and reported the fact that someone who was publicly intoxicated was being a public nuisance the police would have to go out there and do their jobs.  I doubt the Madison Police would have a problem doing that.

For the most part, the Police do take care of the public nuisances as they walk their beat in the downtown area but they can’t be everywhere at once and like naughty children the bad apples in the barrel will wait until the Police have their back turned to act out. When you are being harassed, call the police. Hang around in the vicinity until the cops arrive and point out the bad apple. Take the risk.

Moving the homeless shelters off the square and away from the ritzy condos isn’t going to solve the problem. Do you think these people are stupid? State Street and the Square are their bread and butter. They’ll just walk eight blocks or however far you push them out to get back up here where the cash and the foot traffic is.

Don’t be absurd and think you can get rid of a social problem by trying to hide it, Mr Fisher. Don’t be part of the problem; be part of the solution and help create jobs for these people so they have no need of shelters or begging on the streets of this beautiful city of ours. And don’t be so presumptuous that you forget it is their city too!

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Apartment life, City Life, College Town Life, gentrification, House Rehabilitation, Isthmus Daily Page, Madison WI, Metropolitan Place

Well, IS Gentrification Good?

The folks over at the Isthmus Daily Page picked up on that question in my last entry so I thought I’d explore it a little. First of all, what IS gentrification really? This link is a pretty good over view by Tom Wetzel.

Madison can’t be said to have any real inner city blight. Not yet anyway.

There are what I would call slumlords who have taken some once lovely properties, cut them up any old which way into student housing and used them up. Apparently without doing even routine maintenance over the years. Now even the poorest of the poor students won’t live there. I wish I had a digital camera so I could go take some pictures of these places. (Who is going to sue me? I don’t have anything to take away! It would cost more than it’s worth. heee!) Ugh… Just Ugh.

But that’s sporadic and not likely to spread very far. Or is it? Is this a grand conspiracy to get more space for 16 story whole block condos that run right up against the sidwalk?

I would go so far as to say we don’t really have an inner city perse. We have two unique and saving graces here in Madison. Because our downtown area is so close to the University we have students who are willing to rent the older homes near the University as soon as they can possibly get out of the dorms which means we have landlords who view these properties anywhere near the University and downtown as investments and are generally willing to keep the older homes in semi-reasonable repair so they can charge students exhorbitant rents.

Plus we have the Isthmus. The Isthmus keeps the territory that could become the inner city small and contained. Real Estate has been and is always going to be relatively expensive on the Isthmus so it’s unlikely that we will ever see anything close to to the inner city blight places like Chicago and Detroit have experienced.

Nevertheless, within the last 10 years or so we have been experiencing a boom in real estate development of what I would call the gentrification of downtown Madison. Our aging boomer population wants to live downtown. So do some of our young and upwardly mobile. And they have the money to be able to afford to do it. So here come the developers with their condos. The rich are moving into the downtown area. As close to the Capitol Square as they can get. Right on the Square.

And why not? I love living downtown. This building was built in the early 80’s. I remember bringing my kiddies downtown to watch the skyscapers being built in Madison. So cool. Cheap thrills.

But how many more Condos can we possibly need in the Downtown area before we hit the saturation point? And why aren’t these nice older homes being restored? I walk through these older neighborhoods where the students live and think it would be great if they were returned to their former grandeur.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people who cared about keeping them alive would buy them and rehabilitate them? Return them to the way they were when they were originally built. Return them to single family homes. But then I love older homes and feel sad when they are neglected and mistreated.

I can see the day coming when these houses that have YARDS will become the focus of the gentrification movement. The young and upwardly mobile will start having families and they’ll want a bit of property for swingsets and the family dog. Landlords would be able to charge more rents for rehabbed homes.

But then comes the question of what will happen to the students who currently live here when that happens? Surely they will they be forced off the Isthmus if gentrification starts happening in the student housing areas? Where will they go? Will low cost claptrap highrise apartments go up to house them? Where? Do we really want that?

This article in USA today suggests that some students would stay and pay the higher rents. They’d find a way to make it work out. A group of older students with good references, sharing a rehabbed home, three or four to a bedroom signing a years lease. Why not?

Is gentrification good? IMO, when it gets to rehabbing the older buildings yes. It saves valuable historical architecture. But tearing down stuff so developers build shiny new stuff. Not particularly.

Metropolitan Place is a lovely building but it took away a small bit of green space and some older trees on Mifflin Street. Having that building come flush up to the sidewalk with no terrace betwen the sidewalk and the street is overwhelming. It seems rude. Maybe I’ll get used to it but right now I just miss that grass and the trees.

All of this building is supposed to be revitalizing downtown but I don’t see that happening. Not yet anyway. Seems to me State Street is slowly turning into another upscale Mall. If that ‘s revitalization, whooopee.

B

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Apartment life, Boys, city infrastructure, City Life, Construction toys, gentrification, Life, Madison WI, Metropolitan Place, Street repairs, water and sewer repairs, WISCONSIN

The Older the Boys the Louder the Noise

Old boys have their playthings as well as young ones; the difference is only in the price.

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

‘Tis a gloomy day in the neighborhood today. The good news, is that it rained last night (not enough though) and it may rain some more today. The bad news is that yesterday road construction crews moved in to the block surrounding the Three Threes and began tearing up the street. They are going to be working on the infrastructure under the street.

We had forewarning of this. A rather hilarious note shoved under our doors that got everyone’s attention for sure. It began “YOU SHOULD READ THIS: 1)If you are a person who lives in this building and uses water.”

That Gina, she knows how to make a point without smacking these people around with a newspaper. Most of them ignore half of what is sent out to them. And then have conniption fits when the dreaded even occurs. This notice was the talk of the building! Gina’s a hoot! I think we should keep her and bring her small offerings every third Monday. But I like irreverent people in general.

Anyway the construction guys got their big old toys out there and started doing some serious damage to the asphalt and concrete at 7:30 am yesterday morning. Somehow I didn’t expect noise and an unholy stink like somebody gave a great cosmic fart. I took a prompt vacation to Egypt when I read street work. I have my own luxury barge on De Nile.

You see when they finally finished The Metropolitan PLace and The Overture Center and the road work on State Street close to the Three Threes, I heaved a big sigh of relief and thought finally I can enjoy a summer free of jackhammers and the beep beep beep of vehicles constantly backing up. WRONG

I thought could just go back to dealing with the Madison Fire Department Engine 1’s frequent runs to help rescue someone from disasters. But I’ve gotten used to them. Their sirens and police sirens are like a musical backdrop to the rest of the city going by. I thought it would be quiet this pretty summer. WRONG

Come to think of it, how are the fire guys and gals going to get out to put our their fires? Oh my… They’ll be grounded for the duration. Poor fire people. (this is supposed to be done in mid August. uh huh. Maybe some of us better go voluteer to hold shovels so the shovel holders can do something else so they can accomplsh that goal. <snark> I figure if they get done by my birthday in September I will be happy.)

Meanwhile I’m turning on the radio LOUD and getting into some tunes to cope instead of the relative silence I usually like. Magic 98.1 today. WJJO tonight. Who knows what tomorrow. Wisconsin Public Radio? Maye my Horowiz Cds. Wild and woolly Piano! oooh and Pink Floyd.

I like to hear the city go by though. I like to listen to the birds in the trees and the planes flying over head to land at the Dane County Regional Airport and the occasional fancy Air Force planes that are going to Truax Field and the Black Helicopters flyng in formation at night. I like hearing the wind pick up and die down.

I like listening to traffic and knowing it’s rush hour when I can see Johnson Street backing up and people in their cars getting impatient to get home. I like to hear people talking on the streets and Nicky coming to work at Dorn’s Hardware on that radical skate board of his. Life in “The Tower” is good.

Someday I am going to find I don’t even hear construction toys either because by golly this town is always “under construction.” I haven’t decided if that is good or bad.

The gentrification of downtown Madison is inevitable but is it GOOD? What are we losing in the process and what are we gaining? It remains to be seen. I think it might be a mixed blessing but it sure is interesting to be part of and watch the process.

B

PS: This all means I have to go to bed at a “decent” hour and get up with the Caterpillars–the big yellow ones that growl when those construction guys start them. And the sun. But I like the wee hours of the morning when the Muse and I can commune without interruption. Nobody EVER calls me at 3am. Well maybe I’ll go to bed at sunset and get up at 3am. hmmmm… NO. Just no.

BTW, those guys? They look like they are having a lot of fun and the one I asked this afternoon agreed he was–look at his toys he said with a big grin. I asked if I could play with his toys and he lauged at me. Not nice. Men never want to share the fun stuff.

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Banks, City Life, Life, Madison WI, Metropolitan Place, Money

Chase Me Here, Chase Me There, Chase Me Until You Catch Me!

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1802)I just wrote out the check for my rent next month and realized that I only have one check left. Uh oh…

I’ve been having this big debate with myself about whether or not I should change banks. You see, when I first moved into the Three Threes I started banking at First Federal because it was a hop, skip and a jump away and besides, they gave my friend Karen $10.00 and me a suitcase on wheels. Such a deal. I would have rather had a toaster but I guess toasters are passe`.

I was really happy with First Federal, too. They were good to me, too until they sold out to the bank that shall not be named because you know, you can get sued for saying nasty things about banks and other corporate entities in public places where everyone can read it. Not that they could get anything from me but WordPress might not be too happy if they got yanked into court because I said what I think about the bank that shall not be named on their software. By the way, the bank that shall not be named sure did a nice job on the new facade for their location closest to me. Love the clock.
Anyhow, the point isn’t whether or not I am going to change banks, it is when and to what bank I am going to take my business. Chase Bank has been wooing me and my neighbors with offers of relatively large sums of money when you compare it to our monthly incomes. They aren’t all that much farther away than the bank that shall not be named. Only a couple of more hops and a skip or two.

They started out offering us $50.00. Now I have a check sitting here for $100.00 that I could take up to the Chase Bank on Monday and by the end of the day I could have my starter checks all ready to go and everything transferred over. I only write about three checks a month because I use my debit card for everything else and do the rest of my banking by automatic withdrawal. I wish my Property Management Company offered that so I wouldn’t have to worry about the rent every month.

It’s so nice to know that my bills are getting paid on time and I don’t have to do a thing because even my social security is automatically deposited. Heck I don’t even have to hop skip and jump to the bank if I don’t want to. I can just use my debit card and pay the damn fees to buy my quarters for the laundry. Of course if I change banks, I’d have to wait about two weeks to get my debit card. That would be a pain. But it and would be a great incentive to walk up to the square for the cash I’d need and I’d probably save money in the long run. <heh>

I was hoping a bank would move into the Metropolitan Place (wow nice website guys! Love the piano music.) retail space that has gone up on Mifflin and Broom Street. One might do so yet and if it does I want to transfer my banking to that bank so maybe I’ll just wait awhile longer to make the decision. Maybe by then Chase will have upped the ante to $150.00 and I’ll decide I can make those extra hos and skips uptown.

There’s also the prestige of banking at one of the oldest banks in the country. This is the prestigious Chase Manhattan Bank we’re talking about. Not some little entity that is going to get bought out from under me because of a dot.com crisis or an idiotic home equity loan miscalculation. This is solid money in the bank stability, folks. The other side of the couin is that they are out there swallowing up smaller banks, trying to take over the world. They’re one of the largest banks in the world and they want MY business? Bad enough they’ll pay $100.00 fo it? :^/ What’s up with that?

Maybe I should just order some more checks for the account I have at the bank that shall not be named and mull this over some more, but damn, the least I can order is 100. It will take me two years to use them up! Maybe I should order some pretty ones so I can do something creative with them like decoupage a box or something while I’m mulling. <heh>

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

What do you know, I got through this whole thing and didn’t say one bad thing about the bank that shall not be named except that I don’t like it.  I guess I won’t break my niceness record now.  I’m in a feel-good mode so I’ll just stay there but boy that bank that shall not be named,  what they did!

B

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