Thursday, February 12, 2009

Buying up the land

Alexander Co. is a development company. Buying land for development is what they do. OK, fair enough, right? But I can't help but notice that their name has come up at the center of several contentious land-use and development debates over the past year or so.

They're currently in the midst of an argument over the future of Drumlin farm, a situation that certainly paints them as being somewhat overzealous and thoughtless about the needs and realities of the community. Recently, they tried to get permission to remodel the Acacia House in downtown Madison, as well as build a new apartment building in the small lot behind it (the proposal was shot down by the Madison City Council).

And just today it was announced that Alexander Co. has purchased the Northgate Mall complex on Sherman Ave.

I can't help but have mixed feelings about their plans for the space. While revitalization of the area is needed, the company's track record isn't exactly pristine. It's worth keeping a close eye on any future plans and proposals made by them--and other such companies--to make sure we create an environment that is both good for businesses looking to invest in city improvements and that fosters thoughtful, ecologically sound planning.

Hopefully, I'm reading too much into all of this and it won't become more of an issue. But I have a feeling that the people currently dealing with Alexander Co. over Drumlin farm would tell me otherwise.

UPDATE: This is a good step on the part of AC, so long as they don't end up asking a prohibitively expensive amount for the land.


reality chek said...

First understand some reality:

I owned and lived in a small house adjacent to the alleged "Drumlin Farm" from 1988 until I recently passed it on to my son. It was never - repeat, NEVER - a "community farm" until about two years ago when the tenants down there realized they were going to have to move. They and some of their friends - and ONLY THEIR FRIENDS - kept a garden there. None of the rest of us, even those with lots adjoining the place, were ever invited or permitted to use the land for our own gardens. This entire non-issue is simply a ploy to try to force Alexander Company to cede living space to a group of squatters.

The entire idea of the Novation Center has enormous potential for that area and that neighborhood. I am under the impression that Alexander Company has made significant efforts to work with the local Southdale/Clausen Neighborhood Association to address the real problems, solutions, and needs of the residents - those things more important than a rather trivial garden for a group of a dozen or so people (out of nearly 3000 individuals).

Since I currently live out by the Northport shopping center, I will be interested to see what they do out here. The center certainly could use some upgrading and improvement. The addition of Pierce's Market has been a Godsend; hopefully Alexander Company can keep the momentum going.

Emily said...

Your story is important, and thanks for sharing it - but as in all things, it's just one part of a much bigger puzzle. That isn't to say you're wrong or right, just that I think it's important to take into account the opinions and positions of as many people involved in this as possible. And to approach the problem with equal parts deference toward the land and its potential, sustainable use, and to smart development practices.

The Lost Albatross