If zoning did protect neighborhoods, we wouldn't have neighborhoods in cities all over this country that have had zoning for more than half a century but look like Dresden in 1945. Furthermore, even if there were a zoning ordinance instituted in Houston today, it would not remove the existing incompatible uses, as many pro-zoners like Mr. Pownall believe. That is why the power of eminent domain, not zoning, is necessary to resolve the issues Mr. Pownall addresses and which are critical to redevelopment projects of this magnitude.

Five years ago I approached then-councilmember Vince Ryan urging him to support the idea of a Houston Renaissance-type project in precisely the same area. He made me aware of the problems that faced previous attempts (Founders Park), which I found discouraging. I therefore have considerable appreciation for the task Houston Renaissance has taken on.

According to Wallstin's article, Houston Renaissance is a nonprofit organization. I hope they are very successful and somebody makes lots of money. We need profitable, successful projects such as this to encourage others to redevelop inner-city Houston. Our focus should not be on how much money someone might make (as long as it is not at taxpayer expense), but on how successful the project will be for the city.

On a personal note, let me say that my vision of this area included a restoration of Freedmen's Town, which I saw not only as a focal point for our African-American community but of genuine benefit to the city as a whole. Historical restorations, however, should not be at the expense of a private developer who has other objectives.

Richard Serbin
via Internet

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