Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Unpacking President Trump and "The Art of the Deal": he's great when the other party needs him more than he needs them, not so great when the stakes are different

There has been much analysis of the Trump Administration/ Speaker Ryan's "failure to repeal and replace" what is called Obamacare but is formally termed the Affordable Care Act.  There are lots of reasons for the failure:

- that the Republicans demonized the program when it was mostly a conservative approach based on an old Republican think tank paper and "Romneycare" in Massachusetts
- so they weren't left with a good "Republican" alternative when it was already pretty Republican...
- the intransigence of the Freedom Caucus (somewhat comparable to UKIP in the Brexit debate)
- the lack of policy heft on the part of Paul Ryan (Paul Krugman has written for years that the image of Mr. Ryan as someone with intellectual policy cred is fatuous--he's just an anti-taxer with some books)
- the problem of setting artificially constrained deadlines

But I was thinking about this yesterday morning and all the talk and perception of what a great deal maker Donald Trump was/is as a "businessman," and it occurred to me that his experience is mostly what we would think of as a bottom feeder dealing with distressed assets or situations where the other party needs Trump so much more than Trump needs him/her.

In short, Trump's deal making "prowess" is all about being the more powerful party in asymmetric situations.

That's why he's associated with all kinds of wacky projects and assets, with some exceptions here and there, like the redo of the Old Post Office in DC as a hotel, or the Mar a Lago golf course in Palm Beach.

Trump's experience in dealing with equally powerful parties is very limited, and in the vast majority of the situations where he's been in that situation, he hasn't done particularly well.

There was a letter to the editor in the New York Times yesterday which made a similar point:
President Trump knows how to make a deal with those who want to make a deal with him.  He doesn't know how to make a deal with those who don't want to make a deal with him.  That's the difference between business and politics.
-- James Sutton, Des Moines
Although as I wrote above, it's more than the difference between business and politics, it's about asymmetric versus symmetric power positions.

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At 9:09 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

great and very original analysis. Explains the HBCU situation.

Post was reporting MB is asking Trump for release on NPS restrictions on RFK. Again, good move, don't want to redskins there, but you do have to make that move. I wish she would free up some triangle parks as well.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

If the restrictions were removed, they ought to redo the planning process. Me, I'd extend the street grid with mixed use development on the Benning Road side of the property.

... in the planning process, it would have been interesting for them to include a scenario where the lease provisions were changed, as a thinking (and justification) exercise. But they didn't.

But all EventsDC wants from a release is the ability to build a food hall, which the NPS has deemed to not be sufficiently "recreational" according to terms of the lease.

It's not enough of a gain in my opinion.

... for the Anacostia Waterfront Trust I wrote a memo (it needs a slight tweak) outlining the potential of an urban beach and various "water touching" recreation facilities at the small part of the site's waterfront that isn't wetlands. But it hasn't been discussed with EventsDC yet.

It is amazing considering the location of the site how little there is of the potential scenarios that is water-related.

Implementing the concept would completely change the perception of the site.

... and it doesn't require any change in the lease provisions.

wrt "a food hall," yes I am on the EM board and yes I stated publicly this is overly competitive, but at the same time, there isn't a market for it, especially vis a vis The Wharf, Eastern Market, and Union Market.

.. even with an urban beach and an improved set of recreational facilities, the site is a bit too remote (edge condition) without enough other complementary development, to be able to attract scads of people.

... not to mention the competition from The Wharf, the area around Nationals Stadium, the future Buzzard Point, and the 11th Street Bridge Park.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

One of the other NFL stadiums -- maybe SF -- has integrated some watersport facilities into the mix. Great pics of people on kayaks watching the game. Very much a signature branding moment for the city.

The new interior secretary is probably going to be very receptive to the idea; but again the Mayor's focus is all about the redskins.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Even though I don't think it's a good idea (that edge condition issue), I think it's likely the next Wizards arena will go to the site. In the memo, I did suggest routing the streetcar line from Benning Road deeper into the site to allow H Street's entertainment district to benefit some from the proximity.

I think AT&T Park (baseball) is what you're thinking of but I've only seen photos.

2. there is a piece in yesterday's Express, opining about a site that MWAA is releasing that will be next to a Silver Line station.

... it did mention the desire of Snyder to build a companion entertainment district, which is all the rage vis a vis the Rams stadium. But again, RFK is an edge condition and how do you get people the other 350 days/year. (We'll see how successful the Inglewood stadium will be. Although it has weather and other activities and a mixed use program on the site and is Greater LA.)

Given (1) Snyder doesn't run the team well and (2) he'll want to reap all the value from ancillary development, it's better to let him go elsewhere.

But yes, you're probably right that it's about the opportunity for ancillary development for a football stadium that MB is most concerned about, not a food hall.


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