The ``town hall'' meeting was not in the actual city hall, but in the hipster bar where our pinball league meets. It's right across the street from the block to be demolished, and is in a reasonably good central location for the Eastside neighborhood. And it could hold a hundred riled-up locals on three days' notice. The event was scheduled for 5 pm, because that's a very convenient hour for people who don't have to get home from work to go to things. bunny_hugger would be commuting home from work. I, of course, could just wander over and see what was up.
It was put together as a tolerably well-managed center for the manufacture of consent. There was a computer with a slideshow of photos from inside the doomed buildings, showing them to have last been maintained sometime before Gary Powers was shot down. They had a bigger version of the picture of the planned awful development, so you could kind of make out that some of the buildings on the far end of the block weren't going to be demolished after all. And they had samples of the materials on display, so we could see how they meant to build this stuff with those new-style bricks that somehow look like fake bricks even though they're real bricks. You know the kind I mean. Also they had a snacks table being set up, although I never saw it actually available or used by anyone.
The session was a lot of people explaining how credentialed they were to care about the Eastside, by talking about how long they'd lived there and what roots they had there and how much they love the area, the developer included. They had the owner of Emil's in to explain in a slightly teary speech about how yes, he could just keep the restaurant going, maybe in a new location, to reach the century mark but he wanted to take it to the next level, which consists of selling food in the city farmer's market or in incubator kitchens.
And everyone in the place wanted to explain that while they weren't opposed to development per se, the proposed building was the most hideous thing to have come down the pike since the Crashed Spaceship Art Museum in East Lansing. (I don't think it's quite that bad. Also, the Crashed Spaceship looks like it's going to get blown up in Batman v Superman: Ecks Vs Sever so there's that to look forward to.) The developer allowed as how the details of it might be modified a bit to fit more in with the neighborhood as it exists, and he was open to suggestions on things like the color of the real-bricks-that-look-like-fake-bricks. Also to new names for what the complex is going to be. The developer also explained that the new building is only four storeys, it's not like it's going to tower over the street the way the only picture of it suggests it will.
The head of Preservation Lansing, a group that tries to do just what the name says, granted that perhaps the buildings were unsalvageable but why couldn't the frontage be preserved, or something that had its style be put on the new. Apparently there's no economical way to preserve the mostly brick fronts of a half-dozen buildings dating back to the 1910s while replacing the whole buildings. I do find that believable. The question of how much affordable housing would be in the apartments was asked, a lot, with ever more exact detail mentioned, though the developer held firm at the line that he had just been made aware of the issue somehow. He did say he figured the new apartments to bring in people who work at the Sparrow Hospital (a complex of some 2,038 medical centers in the Lansing area) and the state government and who're tired of commuting from the suburbs.
Did the session reconcile the neighborhood to this thing being dropped on it? I suppose not, really. If the photo slideshow of the building interiors fairly represents them then, yeah, probably there's not much to be done to save the existing buildings. But I don't know that the developer would want to do something as dowdy and unexciting as renovating old buildings when there's new ones to be made anyway. The developer did put out updated plans where the trim was changed slightly, and it doesn't look quite as bad. I will in a spirit of warmth and kindness try to suppose the revisions aren't what they wanted in the first place and the uglier version put out to make everybody feel better about what we're inevitably getting dropped on us.
Trivia: The last attempt to corner the silver market before Lamar Hunt's 1979-80 bid was masterminded by the Bombay financier Chunilal Saray from 1907 to 1912. Source: The Big Rich: The Rise And Fall Of The Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes, Bryan Burroughs.
Currently Reading: Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, Jeffrey J Kripal.
PS: How 2015 Treated My Mathematics Blog, a pile of more statistics.