Forum Replies Created
Maybe there don’t have to be city centres.
Well, of course there don’t. A city is one form of social, political, economic, technological etc organisation, appropriate to one set of social, political, economic, technological etc factors. Change any of those factors and you change the form of organisation that is needed. I see no need to try to preserve cities, towns, monasteries, office blocks, canals or whatever after their economic etc justification has ceased, although I’m quite happy to examine the remains — or the ruins.
Look at Askeaton: lots of interesting ruins.
Maybe we can all drive from one retail park to another, and from one suburban pub to another. We could just shut down the city centre, and dissolve Limerick as a city and as a community. I think most people would disagree with you.
We don’t need to drive from one place to another: Messrs Amazon’s drivers will deliver the stuff to us after we’ve bought it on tinterweb. We don’t need intermediate merchants carrying expensive stocks of (for instance) CDs, washing machines or books: we can read the reviews online and get the stuff delivered.
On the other hand, we don’t need to “shut down the city centre” and I don’t argue that “we” should do so. I simply say that (a) if, as I believe, the economic justification for the continuing existence of some cities is weakening, many folk will just stop going there and some cities, some towns, some advance factories etc can decay gracefully without anyone’s having to do anything expensive to shut them down and (b) unless you can think of an economic justification for investment in the infrastructure of a former century, you are going to waste a lot of money trying to prop it up.
You seem to think that “leisure activities” encompasses in its entirety students sitting in cafes and vomiting on doorsteps. […]
Actually, I was hoping to provoke you into coming up with a set of economic activities that would justify investment in a city and that could not be done more cheaply or more effectively elsewhere. I have, alas, failed in this: you don’t seem to have any idea of what sort of activities could be laid on that would provide a return on the investment. And you have extraordinarily confused ideas about attracting tourists.
The point about nineteenth century manufacturing is that it, and the transport technology of the time, provided an economic reason for a lot of people to live in a high-density city centre. First, you seem to be starting with the presumption that there must be city centres; I don’t think that should be taken for granted.
Second, you seem to accept that there must be economic activities to support the cities, but I am mildly surprised to find that the only such activities you can think of are all leisure-related (I include tourism in that).
Third, there are several problems in the way of a leisure-based city economy: (a) lots of leisure activities are best carried out elsewhere, (b) leisure activities may drive out residents (I don’t want students vomiting on my doorstep in the early hours of the morning thank you very much), (c) leisure gets cut in economic slumps, (d) I don’t think that tarted-up streets constitute a distinctive Limerick brand (but Limerick Ham made in Limerick might) …. In fact, being better than Cork or Galway is irrelevant: what this region lacks is something that attracts people from abroad to Ireland, not something that attracts those already in Ireland away from Cork or Galway.
PS here’s an interesting point http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/01/facts-about-cities.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+marginalrevolution%2Ffeed+%28Marginal+Revolution%29.
I think you’re getting at something when you talk about “buzz”. [Personally, I’d run a mile from it, but chacun a son gout.] In what does “buzzing” consist, why do people want to do it, what conditions make it possible and do the economic benefits outweigh the costs?
I don’t know, but allow me to speculate. If, for instance, it involves a lot of young folk sitting around drinking expensive coffee, and then going to hops [or whatever they’re called nowadays] at night, you can begin to define a target market and to cost a plan. But you might decide that those activities are already catered for in Limerick, some of them at Plassey. Maybe it should be developed as the young folks’ ghetto: older adults will not necessarily be attracted by the idea of having lots more students around the place and the proposal might accelerate their own flight.
Your proposal to get more people living in the city centre just pushes the question out a notch. Why would anyone want to live there, when there are no parking spaces and no gardens? Perhaps they would like to live close to where they work, but are the jobs in the city? And if they’re not, how will the folk get to their jobs without parking spaces for their cars?
It seems to me that proposals to decorate or clean or otherwise prettify the city (including the boardwalks, pedestrianisation and other planners’ ideas) will all fail unless there is an economic justification for the city’s continued existence. Warehosues, meat factories, mills and so on were what built [modern] Limerick, not coffee shops and boardwalks. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but the “buzzing city” concept seems to be one based on the leisure and entertainment industries. That’s fine, provided that the plan is clear and the costs and benefits are assessed. But to me, with no knowledge of architecture or city planning, much of the discussion of Limerick regeneration seems to be based on unrealistic ideas of what can (or should) be achieved, on a particular and fairly narrow set of activities and actors (young folk drinking coffee) and on a neglect of the economic underpinnings.
Why would any service company want to set up in the city? Why not take a site on an industrial estate (sorry: business park) somewhere, with lots of parking spaces?
The Opera Centre proposal seemed to envisage turning the city centre into a suburban shopping centre. But the suburban shopping centres are already quite good at that and have better road access. The project’s appeal to the city fathers seemed to be that retail would provide a high-margin activity that could justify the city’s continued existence, but it may be that no such activity exists. Large manufacturing, retail and service (even public service) activities don’t need the city, so what is it for?
Perhaps hizzonner would like to read this: http://www.lamag.com/features/Story.aspx?ID=1568281