At last night's Common Council meeting I presented a short description of my coffeeshop/co-working plan for the city civic center, and the council voted unanimously to allow myself and fellow Economic Development Commissioners to make queries in the city's name. It's a tiny step, but a vote of confidence for exploring this sort of nonstandard approach to encouraging economic development and active community space.
It was not without potholes. Not even an hour before the meeting, the mayor emailed me to note that he now recalled that the fire chief did indeed have possible plans to expand the fire department building and may desire the plot of land under discussion. Also, alderman Tim Solomon made it known at a meeting the night before that he was 100% against non-park, non-fire department usage of the land. Fortunately, there is quite a bit of open space in the area pictured above in which the concept could work; the building doesn't have to sit exactly where I initially planned. I was gratified by the unanimous affirmative vote and the supportive comments made from the council dais.
So, at this stage we question and query the "tentpoles"; MATC, Franklin High School, the Library (I met and enjoyed a long conversation with a library trustee last night; I'll speak at their next meeting), fire department, etc.
The idea is to gather the needed elements and put a "situation" in place so a Kinkos/FedEx or local-owned/franchise coffee shop can come in and feel comfortable with a nonstandard setup; one that enlivens community life, has an excellent educational and vocational training component, engages the "creative class," and stirs further walkable "commercial amenity" development in the area.
And off we go ...