My Urban-Renewal Idea

On a Saint Paul discussion forum, someone asked “what would you do to better the city if someone gave you a couple million dollars?”

It took me about two seconds to answer; I’ve been thinking about this one for years and years.

If someone gave me a couple million dollars my plan would look something like this:

  1. Buy three adjacent blocks of blighted housing in a down-market neighborhood that’s been ravaged by the foreclosure crisis – Frogtown, the North End, the lower East Side.  There are some blocks where half the houses are foreclosed, vacant or demolished.  I’d like to find one of those – preferably one with an old storefront or two on one of the corners.
  2. Remodel them, at least in terms of basics, leaving room for sweat equity.
  3. Sell the houses on one of the blocks.  Price them at market rates - or half-price for nuclear families where  both of the heads of household had a clean criminal record and one or both had a carry permit and could prove they owned legal firearms.  Give a cumulative five percent discount for each of the following: veterans, charter or private school teachers, cops or firemen.  In other words, a family who had a veteran, a firefighter and a charter school teacher with a permit could get the house for 35% of the already-depressed market value.
  4. Lop off another 10% of the balance if crime on the block and on surrounding blocks drops below neighborhood or city averages in, say, a year or two.
  5. Give one of the storefronts to a small charter school rent-free for five years.
  6. Wait three years and watch as the crime rate plummets, and property values rise.
  7. Sell the other two blocks at the new, higher-value market rates; no half-off for permittees with guns, but offer cumulative ten percent discounts for carry permit holders with firearms, cops/firemen and charter/private teachers.
  8. Plow the proceeds into repeating the process on neighboring blocks.
  9. Watch as the neighborhood, strong, self-reliant, free-enterprise oriented and virtually crime-free compared to the surrounding area, starts to wake up, noticing that the parts of the city run by the DFL are failing while the part run according to traditional conservative values – theirs – is doing well.  People in my project, and around and about it, start to ask “so why do we keep electing clueless DFLers to all city offices?”.
  10. Watch some more as control of Saint Paul flips from the DFL’s bobbleheaded one-party rule to conservative control, beginning an era of hard work that leads in modestly short order to a much, much better city.

I’m rarin’ to go.  Someone pony up!

8 thoughts on “My Urban-Renewal Idea

  1. COME ON MITCH!

    #1 Pistol Range, lots of lanes.
    #2 Trap and Skeet range.
    #3 Off road course for ATV’s and 4 wheelers

    They would do so much business and bring in so much tax revenue that Coleman would have to wear a long coat to cover his woodie.

  2. Not to put a damper on the parade, but…

    Mitch,

    As much as I agree with your plan, I have a strong feeling it would get taken to court for discrimination, thanks on a macro sense to our overly-litigious-demand-equality society, and on a micro sense thanks to a city teeming with orcs.

    (See my comment on this post: http://www.shotinthedark.info/wp/?p=34363)

    FF,

    The environazis and orcs on the city council and zoning commissions would shut all three of those wonderful suggestions down in a heartbeat.

  3. I’m guessing that Chris Coleman’s minions would shut down our gracious host posthaste. Hasn’t Mitch commented a few times on St. Paul’s powerful avoidance of sensible ways of rebuilding his beloved city?

    Moreover, having worked a few spring breaks for Habitat for Humanity, I’ve also seen where it doesn’t work. The second and third time I went to Dallas, I noticed that the homes I’d worked on were already trashed–the pride of ownership that’s supposed to improve neighborhoods just wasn’t happening for many.

    I’d somewhat modify things; I’d get to know people through churches, and make a point of assisting people to retrofit their own homes (unless of course Mayor Coleman prevents it) and learning the skills needed for civilized society. That would, of course, involve some trips to Bill’s and a sponsorship for carry permit training.

    It’s worth noting that the great charities of over a century ago did things this way–except for the fact you didn’t need a carry permit in those enlightened days. See Marvin Olasky’s “The Tragedy of American Compassion.”

  4. Take out the inflammatory rhetoric and accept the fact that Mitch would take a handout to fund his idea instead of actively raising money to make it reality, and I’d bite.

    The experiment would be worthwhile. If it works as Mitch surmises, fine. It would be a great contribution. If it doesn’t, he’ll have many years of fodder explaining how the left screwed up his plan.

  5. “Bobblehead” is inflammatory? (shrug)

    Would I “take a handout?” Well, I’ve got projects of my own in the works right now, so yeah, actually fundraising for this is down my list a bit.

    I suspect that I could make a buck or two (to plow into the project, natch) by making and showing the documentary about the SPDFL’s battle against my project.

  6. I’d be willing to bet that in certain circles, “nuclear families where both of the heads of household had a clean criminal record and one or both had a carry permit and could prove they owned legal firearms” is almost as inflammatory as “bobblehead”.

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