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Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 09:13 am

Seeing things whole

 In her recent conversation with Bruce Rushton (“Can we talk?,” Jan. 19, 2017) Lisa Clemmons Stott, executive director of Downtown Springfield, Inc., said that  Springfield lacks a vision for its city center. “We don’t have this collective understanding of what the neighborhood wants to be.”

This is not inaccurate but it is insufficient. What Springfield doesn’t have is a vision for the whole city with a downtown in it, a collective understanding that what downtown might be is shaped by what allowed to be in every other part of the city by local zoning, infrastructure and finance policies.

For instance, downtown landlords cannot command rents needed to make ground-floor commercial and rehabbed office space pay because of there is a glut of such space citywide. There is a glut citywide because the city devoted all its resources for two generations to make sure there was a  glut. When you encourage construction of office and commercial anywhere, you lower the potential return everywhere.

The problem downtown is not only a lack of a vision, but a failure by city officials to clearly see, and plan for, the city as a whole. 
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