Here are some follow-up points, related to the article in this month’s Advocate, which discusses how not every developer sees this part of town as a death star — and actually understands there is plenty of money to be made here by taking our concerns into account.
1. That Steve Hefner of AmReit, which owns Casa Linda, and Rob Parks of CDC, which is handling the leasing for the non-bank portion of the Wachovia project at Abrams and Belmont, agreed to be interviewed is significant. Both said they usually didn’t talk to reporters, but did so in this case because they wanted to let be seen as part of the neighborhood.
2. Hefner was impressive. He didn’t try to blow smoke and promise all sorts of things to make everyone happy. Rather, he acknowledged the challenges his company faces, and also acknowledged the key role the community will play. That was a refreshing change from the usual sort of developer speak, in which everything is a mystery that will be magically revealed by the developer at the appropriate time.
3. What can we expect to see at each site? Both said it was too soon to say specifically, but expect to see a serious effort made to bring the same sorts of boutiquey, interesting, non-chain places that are in the Lakewood shopping center. One possibility at Wachovia is a locally-owned restaurant with a good-sized patio; CDC hopes to have something on the land by the end of the year.
4. Hefner said his company was sorry to see the Casa Linda cafeteria close, and had been willing to try and work something out with the owners. He said that’s the kind of neighborhood-focused business he knows the community wants.
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