By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Push poll:It's no secret that developers responsible for rebuilding downtown oppose the construction of a homeless centerthere. On June 3, some 30 property owners and "stakeholders" who've put hundreds of millions into renovating downtown properties sent Mayor Laura Miller and the City Council a letter urging them to reconsider the location of the shelter, which would cost about $19 million, should it pass at the polls November 8. Technically, the shelter, which would be built at the corner of St. Paul and Corsicana, isn't even an issue yet: The council has till September 7 to put it on the ballot, and getting it there won't be a slam-dunk. Councilman Mitchell Rasansky insists it ought to be funded privately, and Bill Blaydes claims it will all but kill downtown development.
To make sure it gets no further than the proposal stage, one downtown management company has launched an Internet-based offensive. On Tuesday, Trigon Management, which leases units in four downtown redos (including the DP&L Flats and the Davis Building), put up a Web site, www.downtownhomeless.com, it claims is an "opinion poll" intended to gauge reaction to the shelter.
It's more petition than poll: Trigon boss Ryan Baldwin says he will take the responses to the site to the mayor and council, assuming most are like the 60 he's already received that oppose the downtown shelter.
"Right now downtown has been the prime area, because nobody has actually opposed it," Baldwin says. "Nobody has asked the 3,000 people who live downtown or the 100,000 people who work downtown what they think of it."
The site, designed by Jimmy Hukill of the Anemotion Design, includes a link to the letter sent to the council and photos of two bearded and homeless men--who, incidentally, aren't even homegrown. Hukill says one is probably from Washington, D.C., while the other's from an unknown locale.
Larry Hamilton, whose company is behind the redo of the DP&L and Davis buildings, signed the June letter, but he believes it had little effect. He's hoping the Web site will fare better.
"That letter we sent in June may have been like the first person who said the emperor had no clothes," he says. "A shelter downtown is horrendous. It's a profoundly bad idea. So, right now, we're gonna try to raise the consciousness of everybody that's been asleep."