Equal and opposite reactions

By now, the dust from last month's City Council decision not to sell the property at the corner of Lake and Central to a developer should be starting to settle. The sun still comes up. The world is still round. And the property is still a parking lot and remains an underutilized parcel in a downtown that could clearly use a shot in the arm.

The actual ramifications of the decision won't be known for quite awhile. Beyond the high profile resignations of Tom Dillon and Teddy Overleese - principled stands or huffy overreactions, depending on your point of view - it remains to be seen how the Council's decision will play out long term.

There may be good reasons not to go ahead with the project the developer proposed. Height issues always inspire strong reactions. What to do with downtown is a question that always stirs passions. But by saying no to this project, which - again, depending on your point of view - is a victory for a citizens' group that tapped a public nerve or railroaded a jittery City Council, sets a precedent.

For better or worse, it's hard to imagine that another developer would be willing to try to buy the property any time soon. Seeing the previous developer spend half a million dollars and a great deal of effort and come away with nothing is going to have the effect of placing a pink neon "Do Not Develop" sign over the lot's parking meters.

So what's next? Probably not a lot. What follows will be a combination of quiet blowback or the law of unintended consequences. Very little is likely to happen on the property in the near or even distant future. This may, in the long term, be a good thing. Many people want to see the parking meters remain. And they should, because the Southeast corner of Lake and Central is going to be a parking lot for a very long time.[[In-content Ad]]