Interview with a ‘CoolTown’ developer (part 2)

Continuing yesterday’s interview with urban pioneer Larry Warshaw… How did you come to choosing this development type for the creative class?

“In our designs we put our money into the structural components of the buildings � great structure, great windows, long-lasting roofs, concrete floors, and we expose as much of the interior structure as the city code will allow. The rest is very simple with as few walls as necessary and interior finishes that use inexpensive materials you might find in an apartment, but used in a more interesting way. We also think it’s critical for this group to have active urban streetscapes and we work to get a little money from the City to help with this.

In terms of location, we are east of downtown and the story is typical – lower land prices, years of city neglect, and lots of light industrial zoning that is transforming into a mixed-use neighborhood. We are starting to see some of the tensions of gentrification. We are attracting pioneers. One interesting thing is that when we started, we expected the area to be a sacrifice for people, that their mindset would be �the location is sketchy, but the product is super cool.�

What we have really found is that people�s attitude is �the location is great and so is the product!� These people like edgy both in product and location, and the developers who have tried to build stuff that isn�t edgy for this group or in this area have failed miserably.

For us it is vital that our development work be consistent with what we see as the public goals of the city (revitalization, building urban density, providing housing for groups that need it, moving development in an eastward direction to help curb development over the aquifer to the west, etc.)

Approaching development in this way led us naturally to these kinds of projects and because we really believe all this shit, our buyers believe us too.”

Who are the Larry Warshaws in your community? Speak your mind below…

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