The big local news yesterday was an announcement from the Howard Hughes Corporation detailing their plans for Columbia’s Lakefront. I saw it first from The Merriweather Post, though of course there’s plenty of coverage from area news outlets as well. Here’s one:
There’s plenty to learn about what HHC is planning to do. I recommend taking a look. As for me, what caught my attention in the WTOP post on Twitter was one word: aggressive.
Interesting. Aggressive is a word that can really go either way, when it comes to whether it has a positive or negative connotation. The word choice here gives me pause.
This is most likely because I found the HHC attempt to influence the Columbia elections last Spring* showed a kind of aggressiveness which I felt was both unwarranted and unwelcome. While I had long looked forward to the unfolding of the promise of the Downtown Plan, the political machinations of that election season left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It was as though I had engaged someone to perform longed-for renovations and now realized I had given someone I did not trust the key to my home.
It was a turning point for me. I moved from being a believer to being…doubtful. Not a loud and angry voice against all things HHC, but troubled, and deeply concerned. I want to believe in Columbia's future as the redevelopment moves forward but I will need to be convinced. This Spring HHC tipped their hand about just exactly how aggressive they are planning to be in achieving their objectives. Some folks found that inspiring.
There are different categories when using the word aggressive. We would most likely see the concept of an aggressive plan to treat a disease or eradicate homelessness as a positive. But what happens when aggressive means mowing down anyone who stands in your way? An “aggressive plan to eradicate opposition” doesn’t inspire confidence to me.
I know there are plenty of folks who disagree with me on this. Your voices are important, too. I don’t believe that my opinions are the be-all and end-all on Columbia’s future. I don’t find it productive when others are just plain dismissive of concerns, though. When the discussion turns accusatory as to the motives of those who voice their concerns, I’m out.
One bright spot: it looks like the plans include a restaurant and a performance space to go in the place where Clyde’s and the Soundry were located. That made me smile. Just the thought of being able to eat out again and hear live music seems like a dream to me now.
As to HHC and their “aggressive” redevelopment? As always, I continue to be interested in learning more.
*Through the Rouse Project