In preparation for the World Figure Skating Championships, to be held in London in March, the City of London has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to dress up and clean up the city, including yet another logo. Meanwhile, the buildings directly across the street from the venue are dilapidated, in danger of collapsing, empty, run-down, etc. I can't see how spending so much to re-beautify a walkway near Market Lane or to design a new logo can have much of a positive impact on the city's image when this is the sight that will greet people from out of town every day:
From the far left:
- a corner storefront that has been vacant, with the appearance of some work-in-progress inside having been abandoned over a year ago.
- a supper club that went out of business (and for which we had little use)
- a store front that has been empty for, I think, at least a year and a half.
- a boarded up building with a wall on top that looks unsafe even if it isn't.
- an okay pub
- and the building on the far right of the photo is a "club" that is open only from 10pm - 2am on Saturdays. Huh? One time when I was walking past it during those hours, I asked one of the security personnel if he thought I'd fit in with their patrons. He smiled.
I don't know what the city can or should do about this situation. My small-gubmnt preference is that the city do nothing (and cancel the order for the new logo). But even ignoring that preference, given the local bureaucrats' goal of promoting the city, here are two bits they must consider:
- Promoting the city will not work very well with these buildings and store fronts that have been abandoned and/or are in disrepair. At the very least, if it is even possible (and I have no idea), it might be nice to clean up the insides of those buildings and display the works of local artists in the storefronts. But who knows what relationships are like between the property owners and the city. Maybe the property owners are at odds with City Council. Or maybe the property owners have plans to rent the storefronts to food vendors or souvenir merchants temporarily during the World Figure-Skating Championship.
- Visitors are not going to be thrilled about running the gauntlet at and around Dundas and Richmond: smokers and pan-handlers make it unpleasant enough, not to mention reports of drug deals, violent attacks, etc.
The point I'm trying to make is that putting a dress or a tux on a pig doesn't change the fact that people will recognize it as a pig the minute they look at it.
I live downtown, about a block and a half from the scene in the above photo. I know parts of downtown can be unpleasant in places and at times. But increasingly there is a regentrification taking place as new, high-end condos are being built. I'm hoping this trend continues.
At the same time, I am sure there are many things I don't understand about why that half block of buildings looks so blighted, so I don't want to go too far out on a limb here. But with those obvious conditions, it's hard to see how beautifying a walkway will help the city's image very much.