Comments about Atlanta's downtown failures and Tulsa's proposed arena


Sorry for the slow pace the last few days. Life has been busy.

I received a couple of interesting responses to my report on Atlanta's downtown and why nothing seems to have worked, and also to my item about the proposed downtown Tulsa sports arena, redubbed the "regional events center". The writers have consented to be quoted here. Here's one comment:

Why the Bricktowns of the world (also the Buckhead area of Atlanta and the Dallas West End) are doing so well is simply that people crave Authenticity.

Tulsa, too had a Bricktown, which was north of the Williams Center to Archer between Cheyenne and Detroit area. Unfortunately, aggressive urban renewal razed those old buildings to make mostly parking lots in the late '60's/early 70's. OKC and Dallas just were not as aggressive as Tulsa in the Demolition Derby, and managed to save a critical core of the older brick office buildings and warehouses. I remember when ALL the Dallas West End had going for it was a Spaghetti Warehouse, and an undistinguished hamburger stand, circa 1980, plus many, many old vacant cotton warehouses. It did have a slight advantage in being 4 blocks from Dealey Plaza, though.

I fully expect to see a new Tulsa Project III additional one-cent Tax Blitzkrieg to be launched on us about 60 days before a scheduled special election. The proponents will be well-organized, well-financed, and speak with a well-honed message from Turnbo and Snakey. They will blitz the airwaves with the message to just spend one more itty-bitty penny and HALLELUJAH -- Salvation will come to Tulsa. The 60-day blitzkrieg is to prevent an opposition groups from a) getting organized, and b) getting a different message to the voters.

Tulsa's core problems are lack of new high paying jobs, and holding on to the ones we've still got.

In a later comment, the same writer adds:

Finally the idea about people craving authenticity is not truly an original idea of mine. Michael Crichton introduced me to this idea in his fine book Timeline. I think this craving has something to do with the success of E-Bay, where people can buy tiny bits of Americana or memorabilia, stamps, coins, collectables, hoola-hoops, Davy Crockett Caps, etc. Or, witness the popularity of antique stores, frequently in small town America. Guthrie comes to mind. It's a living Bricktown!

Then there's this from a well-traveled young entrepreneur -- the kind of person everyone says we need to attract to Tulsa:

...when I read the draft of projects being considered the other day, my primary reaction was: "Tulsa Regional Events Center---What in the World and Why?!?" Why would something suddenly appear "out of the blue" and warrant almost 100 million dollars of tax money? What is the purpose for it? We already have an event center going up west of downtown. And where would it be?

Your comments answered my question of "What is it" (leading to a subsequent feeling of depression and nausea...and confirming my worst suspicions), but what I don't understand is why the new administration (who is supposedly more enlightened and concerned about the vitality of Tulsa) refuses to take into account proof of research and the similar mistakes of other cities? When plans were announced for the music pavillion, I thought this issue of the arena was taken care of....

I appreciate the article about Atlanta. In fact, I have visited Atlanta a number of times, and although I drove through downtown for the first couple of times looking for SOMETHING to do (unsuccessfully--I might add), I always spent my time in Buckhead--quite disappointed that a city of such size would have only a very small area of vitality and interest. So I quit visiting Atlanta. The one time I did anything in downtown Atlanta was go to a Braves game, then immediately left downtown when the game was over to drive back to Nashville where things were more interesting. And when I spent a few years in Nashville, it was prior to the building of their arena. And I can tell you...that city was ALIVE downtown...years before the building of an arena. People flocked to the restaurants, clubs, eclectic shops, and entertainment in the downtown district. (I still miss my old hangout--the jazz club.) And I had friends who lived in loft homes above the downtown retail shops.

Thus, even my own limited travel experience disproves the theory that an arena revitalizes anything! So why in the world are they ignoring research and the mistakes of other cities to still consider an arena of primary importance for tax money? I have always thought that if it's such a great idea, a savvy private investor will take advantage of the opportunity and do it him/herself. (Oops! Someone just did that...or something very like.)

That last parenthetical comment is a reference to the Oklahoma Music Pavillion, a privately funded venture for a 20,000 seat concert venue scheduled to break ground this month.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 12, 2003 12:17 AM.

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