Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Downtown Planning

If the leadership assailing the direction of downtown would realize that the monocentric model of city development—where the downtown core determines the metropolitan future—largely ended in the 1950’s and the current model of polycentric development, where various town cores govern the developmental future, perhaps the Mohanna model of small-scale shops and retail might be seen as more appropriate for the current residential communities close to and the highest users of, the current Sacramento downtown.

It might also explain the reluctance of Westfield, one of the world’s most successful mall developers, to invest more in a model going nowhere slow.

Editorial: Advice for Mohanna: Work out a K Street deal
Everybody stands to lose if city is forced to proceed with eminent domain action
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Here's a bit of advice for Moe Mohanna: If you truly love Sacramento – and you say you do – step away from the fight. Work out a reasonable deal with the city and free K Street.

The Sacramento City Council did what everyone expected last week. It voted unanimously to pursue eminent domain to take control of properties that Mohanna owns on the 700 block of K Street. The action allows the redevelopment agency to begin rebuilding a bleak but vital stretch of downtown.

Sadly, Mohanna did what was expected as well. He vowed to fight city efforts to seize his 700 block K Street properties. That could well trigger a protracted legal battle. If that happens, K Street could be held hostage for many more years, a dismal prospect. Nobody wins then, not the city, not Mohanna and not the people of Sacramento.

For months now, Mohanna has engaged in a guerilla public relations battle with the city. He has cleverly showcased his few downtown successes. His Temple Fine Coffee and Tea, a coffeehouse that occupies the old Levinson's bookstore site between J and K on 10th Street is a funky, fun addition to downtown, an affordable and edgy alternative to the upscale eateries financed with millions in city subsidies.

Mohanna also financed the provocative return of Texas Mexican Restaurant. It had thrived on Eighth Street just off K before the city forced it out. It has reopened in its old location, a Mohanna property the city wants to hand over to its chosen developer, Joe Zeiden.

If the city and Zeiden were smart, they would find a way to preserve popular home grown businesses like Texas Mexican while still pursuing Z Gallerie, Sur La Table, Urban Outfitters and all the other upscale national chains that Zeiden has said he will bring downtown.