What!? Sho-Deen Inc. and the city of Geneva are at each other’s throats? I’ve got to watch those City Council meetings more often! This was supposed to be the quintessential public/private sector love affair match made in heaven, but now they’ve gone as far as trading tabloid taunts.
The only thing that might shock me more than this nasty turn of events would be aldermen Craig Maladra and Dawn Vogelsberg voting against the mayor on, well, anything.
It all starts with the Downtown Master Plan, which as it’s evolved, has begged for the installation of downtown apartments. The theory is that the inevitable increased foot traffic would positively impact our .
So, intermittently over the last 10 years, Sho-Deen Inc. has been trying to bring a multi-unit downtown housing dream to fruition. Like an enthusiastic new groom, Sho-Deen is ready to be the one to carry those new downtown Genevans across the threshold to a new urban life.
Ah! But we have a problem. As far as cities go, Geneva is well into middle age. Not only are buildable lots hard to find, but the few open spaces that exist are bristling with all sorts of challenges, not the least of which include the word that strikes fear in the hearts of developers everywhere: “zoning.”
Like any online dating service, every municipal suitor has to answer nine basic compatibility questions aimed at whether the new development will have a negative impact on their neighbors. And the Second Street and South Street parcel we’re talking about is fraught with particular peril.
No prospective condo or apartment owner wants that glorious view of the side of a parking garage and no nearby neighbor wants their home turned into the equivalent of a Broadway stage by vehicle headlights exiting the underground parking garage at all hours of the night.
The façade has to fit in, the landscaping should act as a buffer, the project has to meet criteria of the historic district, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I could continue with more details, but as it is with all lovers' spats, the facts aren’t really that important—it’s the feelings that count. Well, that and the Daily Herald already covered the specifics pretty well.
So, this spat has gone back and forth to the point where the suitor (Sho-Deen, Inc.), faced with yet another demanding partner (the city) exclaimed the equivalent of “I can never please you,” and started humming These Boots are Made for Walking as he took his box of candy and walked right out the front door.
Making statements like, “This is the wrong damn building, but we are going to build it,” “… to be told ‘your plan needs detailed design expression’ is an insult” and “It (the downtown plan) is simply a farce,” Sho-Deen Inc. President David Patzelt abandoned a 17-unit apartment plan and pared it down to five townhomes which don’t require a public hearing.
Then City Manager Mary McKittrick stole my favorite term by calling those remarks “disingenuous” and added, “Shame on you for trying to pit the City Council against the staff.” Development Director Dick Untch said that he thought they were close to a “mutually agreeable plan.”
Meanwhile, the City Council, hearing all of this for the first time at their Jan. 3 meeting, responded to Sho-Deen with something along the lines of, “If you were having problems, why didn’t you come to us?”
Because that’s all so confusing, please allow me to reduce this entire transaction into the language of love!
Our suitor, frustrated with his coy quarry, declared, “Your lips say ‘kiss me,’ but you keep turning your head. Despite my undying affection for you, I can never seem to make you happy. Why must you always question my motives! We have a name for women like you!”
Ah! But what our shy woman really heard was, “I am the great Shodeeni! How dare you question my judgment! Don’t you worry you’re pretty little head about these real estate things, we know what’s best for you!"
Of course, if I ever dared utter something like that to my wife, I’d be walking funny for a few months.
Incensed, the coquette named "Geneva" answered her suitor in the manner of a famous girl group:
If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends
Make it last forever, friendship never ends
If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give
Taking is too easy, but that's the way it is
Then she screamed, “If I have to tell you what I really want, then what’s the point? You should know me by now! I thought we were doing so well!” burst into tears, slammed the door while our stunned suitor dropped his box of candy.
The City Council, playing the role of the formerly jilted lover, stammered, “You never talk to me anymore. Please take me back!”
C’mon folks. Geneva and Sho-Deen go together like Fannie Mae and foreclosures! You can’t break up a 40-year relationship over something as silly as apartments. Calm down, take a deep breath, let go of the anger and remember how good it was in the beginning. Remember how much you really love each other.
Think of those classic romances! Liz and Dick, Grace and the Prince, Paul and Joanne, Bogie and Bacall, Kate and Spencer, and Siegfried and Roy. You’re meant to be together. So stop fighting it. Kiss and make up and build some condos.
I shoulda been a marriage counselor.