Thursday, December 30, 2010

All Recoveries Are Local

Tip O'Neill's famous dictum was, "All politics are local."
Based on what I saw yesterday as I walked down Montgomery Street in San Francisco, the corollary is also true: All recoveries are local.
Here's what I saw that made the point.
About a block from my apartment is an old three or four story brick building. Several years ago the run-down building was bought for renovation. It looked like the whole neighborhood was going to turn into a blend of antique shops complemented by new, up-scale housing.
Except that shortly after the new developer bought the building and put up the scaffolding signaling that work would begin, the entire economy imploded. With real estate leading the collapse.
The scaffolding sat for month after month. For almost a year it sat looking like a skeleton outside a decayed body of the building.
Then one day the scaffolding disappeared, replaced by plywood boards. The universal symbol for a building project that's not just temporarily delayed, but on long-term, maybe even permanent work stoppage.
It sat there.
The sidewalk was narrowed where the building was because of the plywood panels.
In bad weather the boards warped and splintered and looked even worse.
Instead of a renewal project bringing new residential to the area it became an eye-sore.
Until yesterday.
I walked by the site. The plywood was gone. There was a man sweeping up the sidewalk. A door was open to an inner view of the building's interior courtyard. It had already been swept clean. Site preparation was underway. Work will begin soon in earnest.
It's not "the recovery."
But it is "a" recovery.
And at the local level, that's the best kind of recovery there is.

All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb