Saturday, May 3, 2014
Will Rogers said "Buy land. They aren't making any more of it." Part 2: Possible Consequences of a Library "No" Vote.
If the Library Millage fails the plan will go the shelf and stay there for the foreseeable future. The City has spent too much time and money to re-invent the wheel immediately. If The Citizens vote says the Library is fine as is,The Commission is under no obligation to audition new plans.
The length of time the plan collects dust will be directly proportion to the margin of defeat. If the plan is is trounced it may remain dormant as long as possible. God willing and da creek don't rise.
That means until roof leaks cascade and cracks appear in facade.
That's politics. Politics does not like losers and the margin of defeat will remain in the memory of vote seekers long after the reasons why are forgotten.
If the margin is close the plan could resurface more quickly or at least well ahead of anniversary dates. 2021 (Fifty years of the 1981 Birkerts remodel) or 2027 (100 years of Baldwin). That too is politics.
When old plan is revisited, the dust is blown and pages turned no one will care about placement of book drops, cafes, or whether the entrance is on Martin or Merrill. Instead the City will look for assumptions in the original plan that caused it to fail.
Cost is most obvious. The Library proposed was apparently too expensive for what the people wanted. A future problem might be that 21.5 million may buy substantially less in the future. Consumers are well aware of that phenomena.
So ways to cut costs without cutting substance might be considered.
Tearing down and building from scratch is usually cheaper than remodeling. As would be moving a the library to a less valuable location.
In 2014 the Library looks out on Shain Park where luxury condominiums with same great location and view sell for 3.5 to five million dollars.
In the relatively upscale City of Bloomfield Hills million dollar homes are not unique but usually come with a two acre lots. 3.5 million dollar condominiums boggles even the Bloomfield mind.
The current plan was written in on the assumption that it was important to keep the library centrally located in Downtown Birmingham with architecture befitting that of other historic buildings like City Hall.
In the future such assumptions may be considered luxuries and secondary to a less costly new library. It could be be constructed in Adams Square or on Woodward Avenue perhaps closer to 14 Mile where the the property would also be less expensive.
One supposes that with proper planning, the land the Library leaves behind could be developed in a manner that might maintain the aesthetics, and greatly add to the City's coffers.That could pay for needed road and sewer repair or whatever. Residents should not however expect a tax rebate or a check mail.
The fact is a "No" vote opens a Pandora's box of possibilities and one can not be sure that they all be for the better. Making living Birmingham more affordable may come with a high price tag.
Posted by Mark Kapel at 2:39 PM