I had a stimulating (if decaf) coffee with my friend the Green Skeptic this afternoon. Conversation drifted to how Philadelphia managed to avoid being too overbuilt in the real estate bubble. Everyone here always complains about how the archaic and endless zoning process and the expensive union labor force hamstring development in Philaldelphia. And there is no doubt that these factors preclude easy and rapid development and redevelopment of Philadelphia's urban core.
But, we speculated, did Philadelphia's "Can't Do" Attytood (as they say here) have the unintended benefit of preventing too much over-development that has been seen in places like Phoenix and Miami? [Today's New York Times even had a story about how Bloomberg's emphasis on development and streamlining permitting may not even have benefited New York. ]
What does all of this Starbuck's infused musing have to do with green building? It stands as a cautionary tale--how fast is too fast?
In St. Louis, Missouri's "First Green Development" was razed to the ground due to foreclosure:
five banks have started foreclosure proceedings on the project, which was started in August 2006 and appeared to be abandoned during construction.
Expedited permitting processes for green buildings are an increasingly common non-financial incentive for green buildings, especially for cash-strapped municipalities that can not offer financial incentives or tax credits. As we seek to encourage green development, does it make sense to ensure that the regulatory process is deliberate enough to prevent overbuilding? Or is that not the appropriate role for building regulation?