For Release Thursday, February 14, 2012
Legendary Chicago planner Daniel Burnham would like Scott Polikov. No timid plans, no boutiqued, half-done solutions. Polikov – attorney turned town planner and public-private partnership consultant – spoke in mid-January to a roomful of rest estate developers, financiers, planners and local officials at an event sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of the Urban Land Institute.
Polikov was bursting with big ideas – even for small places.
He told this audience that the key to better development today is a mindset centered on economic strategy. “We never approach a project and start out by just planning,” he said. “We start with a market study, to see what level and what kind of investment will actually produce good results. Planning, in the absence of examining market conditions, ought to be considered malpractice.” This approach could provide more local funding capacity for infrastructure, to make up for diminishing federal capacity.
Proving his point, he put up slides from a small Texas community. The scene looked familiar to anyone who’s seen small cities with neglected centers. Roanoke, Texas, just north of Fort Worth, has a population of 7,000. Despite a median household income of almost $80,000, the city’s center looked weary and worn. It was a tableau all too familiar: aging concrete spread all over, with the usual eruption of power poles and tacky signs pointing to places people already know how to find. Few pedestrians in sight. And because it’s Texas, a predominance of pickup trucks.