In this week's cover story, Jeffrey Billman parses 10 years of vertical development under the rule of yes-man Mayor Buddy Dyer. Dyer's take on urban planning – basically a Natural "build it and they will come" whisper – formed the backbone of his State of Downtown pep-rally speech last week: all sunshine and roses and incentives and swaying cranes and progress. The heady heights of his vision can be, at times, intoxicating (if not vertigo-making), which is probably how so much of it manages to survive scrutiny. But while Dyer tends to focus on his own legacy via giant sports and entertainment venues and nondescript notions like the "creative village" – all the while lip-servicing income inequality in Parramore, crime, and transportation that isn't pointless like SunRail – we figured we'd go all the way and dream up some urban developments that we think would make our downtown better ... or MORE RIDICULOUS. Play along, won't you?
1.) MAYBE WE SHOULD BUILD A GIANT ERECT PENIS STRUCTURE like that newspaper in China did! (photo above) Quick, everybody make a joke about Buddy Dyer's penis. See, it's funny!
2.) Wouldn't it be cool if streetlight posts had umbrellas on them? Sometimes it rains, you know, and sometimes life really does feel like a romantic comedy in which the raindrops are falling like the tears of your coming heartache.
3.) We could pretend we're a real city that actually cares about art that doesn't look like glass pineapples or barbed-wire seagulls. We could even subsidize live/work spaces for budding artists!
4.) Speaking of Chicago – because we sorta just were – what if the city subsidized patrons of local farmers markets. Chicago recently offered $10 in "citybucks" for use at each shopping visit. Related: Why don't our farmers markets look this cool?
5.) Here's something that's already happening but could likely use some (more?) funds from the city. Citing the growing diabetes population in urban areas like Parramore, Hebni Nutrition Consultants – which receives both charitable and state funding, and somehow has a LYNX bus for a mobile farmers market – is doing good work to change food perception in the areas that need it most. Beth Kassab wrote about the company in the Orlando Sentinel here.
6.) Orlando loves its IKEA (especially on weekend drinking binges when lack of sense of direction and crowds collide), so why not chip in to have IKEA build a weird prefabricated development that looks a lot like something you would buy at IKEA. Don't laugh! It's happening in London.
7.) Everyone is all abuzz about community gardens and sustainability and stopping hunger and making nice, but can we DO MORE? Apparently so. Some cities are sponsoring public streetscapes and landscapes that you can eat. Because everyone needs to eat. People in Seattle get to eat like this:
8.) Remember that whole city thing where power boxes were painted to indicate the neighborhoods they were in? That was sort of cute. But wouldn't it be even more awesome if those power boxes converted into comfy couches? YES IT WOULD!
9.) We should totally build a greenspace situation atop the blight of I-4, right? That's sort of what they did in Dallas.
10.) CAN WE PLEASE HAVE THIS? It's a Chinese "Superstar" and it can house 150,000 people. WE REALLY NEED THIS. THAT IS ALL.