“The Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy questions whether a state-government-led effort can produce cool cities.

Michael LaFaive, the center’s director of fiscal policy, says cool developments, such as the SoHo area of New York, succeeded because they “flew below the radar screens of control-seeking bureaucrats, politically connected developers and local zoning bureaucracies.”

LaFaive argues that had today’s complex urban building and zoning regulations existed in the 1960s, Barry Gordy would have been unable to start his legendary Motown recording studio in a house in a Detroit neighborhood.

“The entrepreneurial energy that could be unleashed in this state if the barriers to entry were lowered would be incredible,” LaFaive said.

But Jeff Kaczmarek, senior vice president for business and community services at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said state government tools have been critical in the cool cities effort, including a program that gives developers tax breaks for building on “brownfield” sites in older cities.

“That has really spurred a lot of activity in the cities,” he said. “And developers are becoming more comfortable in using these tools, which are creating a critical mass of development projects.”

Glazer says Granholm’s continued focus on creating cool cities will be critical in keeping the development momentum going. “

From the AANews’ article (which quotes me), “Cities learn it’s cool to be cool,” also “Some see chilling effect in cities trying to be hip,” and an interview with fellow cool cities task force member Brandt Coultas.

Author: Rob