O: Simulated Reality


There is well known fact that I have a deep, dark passion for a specific video game. This game has plagued me since around 1995 and I’ve grown with it over the years. It’s gone from 2-D, to 3-D, to actually making sense. It’s realistic, but also a simulation; it is…

…SimCity.

Literally, from the moment that Windows 3.1 was introduced into my life in elementary school, I’ve had a strong fixation on this game. There’s no point, there’s no last level, there’s no orc’s; the concept is clear: build.

It’s a developers utopia. From the original, limited, but nostalgic Simcity to my personal favorite; Simcity 4 [in which you could create and program your own buildings]. It was a nerds paradise; a paradise that I didn’t end…ever.

To this day, on my trusty, old laptop; Simcity 4 is still loaded. Why? There isn’t much else more relaxing then looking at something created and modifying, adjusting, increasing, decreasing, and just relaxing as you escape from your world into another.

Or was there something more?

From what you’ve read above, it’s been a geek-fest of a males take on a video game. However, the concept behind it really stuck with me over the years. It wasn’t about the tornado, UFO, or some other random disaster [including Car-Zilla?]; it was about going behind and above and building the impossible.

Yes, I even used SC4 as a failed diagram about zoning regulations in my philosophy of politics course in college. The belief behind development just amazed me. I went ahead, in school, and pushed the envelop on State and Local Government, I followed Department’s of Transportation, my wallpaper as a child? State maps from around the United States. Going on vacation wasn’t about the destination, it was about traveling from A to B and where and how we’d travel [I’m already freaking about driving to Indianapolis in January]. I thoroughly enjoy the Shock because I’m getting develop something out of nothing in a place that I’ve watched grow through the years; Kansas City.

However, it turns out that Simcity, Shock, teaching degrees in social sciences; emphasizing geography, and others were it for me.

Through my rather random Twitter feed; I follow groups like the international airport just south of where I live, or the state’s DOT, I talk to the social media specialist of MODOT almost daily [even when I don’t get lost]. I took what I loved in a digital world and placed it into reality. It’s evident with Subway, what do I do? Develop. I chart out growth patterns in neighborhoods and towns, I keep up to date with transportation adjustments, and I’m always looking for the next ‘hot spot’, bu  I never considered an actual public figure position that involved development until about a week ago. Right before my girlfriend started to learn about her opportunity to relocate to Kansas City, I was inquired by the social media lead at the chamber of commerce of the city I currently reside in. Inquiring on if I’d apply to become a member of the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

…yes…read that again…

I’m still sitting here, haven’t replied back to the thought, but naturally in this mind; the concepts are endless. I mean, check out this one idea I’ve had in my head:

In the current city I’m residing in the downtown looks…well, awful. Old buildings, no development, just a lack-luster attempt at survival; let alone growth. Watching the downtown of Kansas City become what it has over the years versus what I have here has been a challenge. So, I’m taking what little I know, what I constantly think I know, and I’ve created a way to bring some new, fresh life into this dull, old city.

Downtown, near a major interchange of two highways stands an abandoned, privately owned rail yard. The sidewalks are destroyed by weeds, half the fences have been knocked down/rusted apart, and there isn’t life anywhere around. Again, the rail yard isn’t used; it’s been abandoned for years; I remember when it went vacant.

So why not change that? This city has several running/biking trails throughout the city, and their growing [slowly, but surely]. However, there is no trail head in the city. Due to this, and vast acreage of the rail yard; the city can turn around and knock the yard as ‘blighted’ and take the action of eminent domain and take the yard. Additionally, through an actual useful TIF, since this area is specifically what TIF’s were designed for in the first place. Not to be used painfully such as it was in the Kelo vs New London case [think I didn’t listen in class?].

With a TIF in place, we can start a two-fold plan for redevelopment in the area:

  • First, this mass amount of space can become a park/trail head for all the massive trails that stretch for several miles throughout the city. This would include a plan for a potential riverfront trail to run directly off of this park area, north into the softball/baseball complex/casino several miles to the north [the city sits directly on the Missouri River].
  • Secondly, in order to bring about actual growth and not just to spruce up the area; a calculated, commercial development would also be cornerstones within this park area. Businesses such as an Apple Store and Trader Joe’s, two businesses envied by the upcoming business minded generations of the area, would snap the city out of the fast food controlled, factory foregone past. Additionally, not only will the properly value continue to increase in the area [trust me, it can’t get any lower, minus nuclear waste being spilled], but it will begin a decent to the north and take a two-three block wide area and build up new commercial entities. Being able to actually rebuild a downtown means that cornerstone businesses could take bake a blighted downtown area.
  • Finally, we take out the notes that Johnson and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas have learned in the last decade; when done calmly and carefully, tax breaks for businesses, regardless the condition of the land, can bring about additional interest to the region. The fact that this downtown area does sit on an interstate with ease of access to Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Mo/Ks is also a lucrative pull for the sake of transportation.

All of this is so, so theoretical that it really isn’t funny, and with the government of this city being run still by the “good boys gun club”, it is doubtful that progress would take place immediately.

However, who knows what the next week, month, or year holds?

Regardless, I find it amazing that video games and a strange, geeky childhood passion can stay alive so long to the point to where I’m looking at actual movement inside the political machine.

1.4 years since my life got turned upside down…

…I think we’ll count this as progress.

-D-

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