Will Politicians Ever Be Creative?

One of the joys of the startup world is that anything is negotiable and nothing is standard as long as there are legal documents backing it up. There are no rules.

Standing in Long Island City this past weekend, I couldn’t help but think about the Amazon deal. The amount of development in this area had begun a long time before the Amazon deal was even an idea and then sealed shut. Developers who bought up buildings to rebuild and turn them into new high-rise apartment buildings, with the hopes that they will attract new people to live there began way before the conversation around Amazon came to town.

We should learn from our past. Bringing jobs to a community does not always help the community that lives there. What it might help is a new community that comes to live there. How do you support the old community and mix it with a new community? That is basically what they did on the Essex Street project. Why can’t we have more people surrounding the table rethinking and being creative about development?

These days we can know exactly what neighborhoods want. CoUrbanize (in full disclosure, a company that I am invested in) just does that. They help transform real estate by connecting to the community through technology. That means not having to listen to the vocal people, who might represent the least amount of people, get riled up in community town meetings. What CoUrbanize is giving everyone is real data to make smart decisions.

How about negotiating for 30% of housing to go to middle-income tenants and only 30% of the commercial real estate to go to large chains, and less parking and more bike paths, and a local teen center. I am just making this up from the top of my head but we need more jobs for communities and more balanced neighborhoods.

Just shutting down development is not the answer. The developers who own those buildings will just cease to do anything to repair what they own and to believe otherwise is just fooling yourself and the politicians who are using these issues for a power platform. The answer is in better negotiations to force everyone to come to the table and do better for the community.

How do we get our politicians to get smarter about engagement and reality vs just saying no? Real data.