Salt in the Wound, which has been re-opened just so you could put salt into it

July 23, 2009

Leilani Lanes was the world’s best karaoke bar with a great bowling alley attached to it. Then it got sold to a developer and it closed. It was going to be made into condos. It was a shot to the heart…love progress of course, just so sad to see a great place go.

Leilani then

Leilani then

Now (a few weeks ago actually) word comes that the developer is bankrupt and the property has been taken back by the bank.

Why? Why do I have to die this death over and over? Is it not enough that this icon of all things cool is gone, surrounded by a chain link fence?

Can’t it just become condos and be done.   I mean, highest and best use is great. Progress is great. But closing the old girl down and replacing her with nothing? It’s a crying shame. Literally. I am crying. And it’s a shame.

Leilani now

Leilani now

Curse you, economy. When times are good you take away pleasure, when times are bad you take away lack of pain.  Have you no soul?  No compassion?

Can you at least put a karaoke mic in the parking lot, just for old time’s sake?


What Housing Crisis?

June 9, 2009

Congrats to Bremerton and Silverdale, the region with the best potential in the nation for growth in home value. Talk about bucking national trends!

This quote is particularly interesting: “In 2000, per capital income in Bremerton/Silverdale was 1 percent below the national average. In 2008, it was 8 percent higher than the national average, he said.”

I guess in the ongoing debate over the legacy of departing Mayor Bozeman, this may be one in his favor….

Something Important Was Said on Friday!

June 8, 2009

At the most recent Prosperity Partnership Regional ARRA Coordination meeting, we had a speaker from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to talk about their Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. This is the $4.7 billion that the stimulus package laid out to help beef up broadband adoption in our country, and likely the first down payment in a larger national broadband strategy.

Anyway, the speaker used one of my favorite grad school words – leveraging – when talking about how they’re going to judge applications for broadband stimulus dollars. As in, they’re actually going to see what other ARRA dollars are being used in the vicinity and how this project connects to those. He mentioned a couple of examples: some obvious, like relationship to Health IT investments, but some really interesting, like relationship to HUD investments in low income housing projects. This is sort of a no-brainer, since low-income people fit into that “unserved/underserved” criteria that they’re talking about for BTOP, but it’s something I’d never heard before and potentially a huge driver of the collaborative coordination process that we and other regions are leading.

Obvious caveat: the regs aren’t out yet for these dollars so we’ll see how much that actually makes it into the Notice of Funds Availability. But let’s see what we can do now on the chance that it is indeed true!

Seattle P-I Discovers Snarkiness

May 14, 2009

What is it about becoming online only that turns you sarcastic?  Seriously, all the professional bloggers are cynical wiseacres.  That having been said, very funny title.

I can’t blame Generation Y , though. It’s the American Dream of their parents that has been idealized by the media and popular culture for years, so it’s hard to get the goal of white picket fences out of your system. They’ll learn though. Especially once gas prices go back up in a few years, and living on the farm with your horses and driving into downtown doesn’t seem so fun anymore. Plus you have to shovel horse poop!

You Can’t Even Do It In Harvard Yard Anymore

February 6, 2009

Pahk Ya Cah, that is, if you know what I mean. And now you may not be able to do it in Tacoma. (BTW, I realize this article is, like, three weeks old, but hey, it’s the legislative session.)

The discussion of minimum parking requirements – essentially how many stalls developers need to build in their buildings – is one of costs vs. amenities. On one hand, it can cost the developer up to $25,000 per parking spot because it’s essentially unsell-able or unlease-able space that would otherwise be a commercial or residential unit. But, if you are looking to live or set up an office somewhere, you may want to be able to park (or pahk) your car off-street, unless there is good enough public transportation from home to work.

It’s always seemed to me like this should be a pure market calculation, right? If developers know that they need to have parking in the building to attract tenants, they will. If they don’t (because of that transit or walkability), they won’t. So, why does government need to be involved and setting arbitrary minimums?

Certainly, there are some “tragedy of the commons” issues, potentially. If everyone just relies on street parking, then you may have overcrowding outside the building. But even then, in a perfect market, a commercial garage would spring up. Instead, if government invests in walkability and transit in urban cores, you may not need the parking, and you may reduce both traffic congestion and emissions. I’ve even heard tell of cities with “maximum parking limits” for buildings, which takes it the other way.

Anyway, the point is, this is a good tool for increasing affordability of market rate housing (that $25,000 per space gets divided up among the units), and it’s something our more dense, urban cities should be looking into. Good job, Tacoma!

The Mortgage Professor

February 4, 2009

Jack Guttentag (a.k.a. the Mortgage Professor) has a piece today entitled, Saving the Banks Without Breaking the Bank. It basically argues that we should be focused on consumer rescue rather than institutional rescue because the only way to stop the slide in real estate prices is to help those underwater not be forced into bankruptcy thus limiting the erosion in value of the institution’s assets.

What do you think?

The Government Will Pay You To Own a House

December 17, 2008

Anyone remember good old Matthew Lesko? Guy in a strange “The Riddler” jacket shouting on late night TV about how the government wants to give you lots of money, if only you buy his book and find out how.

Sort of seems like we’re on the path into Lesko land with interest rates. Read the rest of this entry »