A couple months ago Emil's, the oldest restaurant in Lansing closed, following the end of their lease. Most everything else on that block got closed too. And then the news we all kind of expected came: the developer who'd bought the whole block was going to tear everything down and build a bunch of new mixed-use apartment-light commercial stuff. And then plans for what the building would look like came out.
Here I have to pause and explain that the Lansing metropolitan area is getting divvied up between two major developers. One, the Gillespies, are busy tearing down old stuff to put up buildings that look like big Lego-block projects. The other, the Gillespies, are busy tearing down old stuff to put up buildings done in that ``outlet mall-style buildings that look enough like things with architectural features to make them look worse than they have to'' style. Yes, the Gillespies are brothers. The ones with the restaurant are the other Gillespies, the ones with the buildings that look like fake versions of themselves.
So. The plan they announced was to put up a building that looked like a mid-value commercial zone in SimCity 2000. By itself I suppose it's not horrible, but it wouldn't be by itself. The neighborhood's got a lot of 1910s-through-30s buildings, and while some of them have been battered by redesigns (the Michigan Market, once upon a time an A&P, has been clad in aluminum siding for example), there is a neighborhood style that this just doesn't fit. And with Emil's getting shut down for this ... well, that's a sentimental stroke. The restaurant had kind of given up in that subtle way an old business does, and the dwindling customer base knew it. But the sense of offense was strong.
A Facebook group to oppose the new plan formed instantly, which I suppose you could say about anything that happens these days. But there got to be a lot of writing about it. Also a lot of that curious amateur-journalism that people do these days, where they study whether public records indicate that licenses to things have actually been issued or whatnot and great conclusions are drawn from that. Yes, every city council member got written, repeatedly.
Within days the developer had announced a ``town hall'' meeting to talk with the neighborhood about why they were wrong to hate the developer's plans so very much.
Trivia: In a 1710 manuscript, Gottfried Leibniz represented ``greater than'' and ``less than'' with a variant on the parallel-lines equals sign: if the upper line were longer than the lower, it signified the quantity on the left was greater than the one on the right. If the lower line were longer than the upper, it signified the quantity on the left was less than the one on the right. He drew the notation from his teacher, Erhard Weigel, who used them in 1693. Source: A History of Mathematical Notations, Florian Cajori.
Currently Reading: Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, Jeffrey J Kripal.