In our last installment, we left with the intrepid explorer-narrator-planner (me) leaving the wilds of Town Creek and making his way into more settled grounds.
In the distance there, on the left, you can see one business that has moved into what could be the bike trail - The South Warehouse. It's where rich white people go when they want to dump a few college education's worth of money into a wedding.
But there's some good real estate available here, that could go into more functional businesses, or even - gasp - affordable rental housing. I know that's anathema to the current crop of real estate barons, apparently, but I think it could somehow serve some purpose, giving an up-and-coming middle class a place to live. There's businesses already here, that could benefit from a more vibrant downtown culture, and a nice bike trail could neatly tie this together.
That said, there's no reason you couldn't put some fancy-pantsed things along your bike trail. Bikers need their bike shops, sure, but you can't just line the thing with bike shops and apartments and churches. There's good spaces for a nice brewery, and offices. All kinds of things could feed off some redirected foot traffic.
Would they? I don't know. I wouldn't want to bet money on this. But just dream with me a little while longer.
There's a real rail here too, not just the railroad that we're building a bike trail over. The loading tracks have all been torn up and decommissioned, so nobody can load and unload here. That speeds traffic along should a train hold it up - it won't be holding it up for long.
But these streets are wide. A middle boulevard could slow down traffic and provide much-needed green space. Some of the more rotten properties could be easily torn down, giving room for some trees, something natural to connect this land to the River. Also, driving up the property values a bit, so perhaps some tax incentives could keep the light manufacturing from being driven off should this crazy scheme go down.
Think of it - kids playing, people on bikes, some work and play, all the things that make a city worth living in. Throw in some free high speed wireless and rent that doesn't consume 3/5 of a paycheck, and you're living in a wild dream world.
Obviously, just a bike trail wouldn't do this. Nor would the failure that was the Capitol Green project. But a bike trail's cheap (except the parts where you have to tear out some old railroad trellis, it's practically free) and the rest can slowly come online as you need them.
And if it fails? You're exactly where you are now.