Donovan Rypkema: All I can say is WOW

Donovan Rypkema, PlacEconomics

Donovan Rypkema, PlaceEconomics

I had the privilege to attend the opening session of the Louisiana Trust’s 30th Annual Preservation Conference which featured keynote speaker Donovan Rypkema.  Not only was he fantastic…he was AWEsome!!!  When took to the podium he appeared like your typical absent-minded professor, way smarter than you, economist.  Everything he said was heartfelt with a hint of humor.  His remarks were concise and easy to follow and understand.  I was proud when he said that the City of Alexandria is employing its own stimulus plan which will be more effective and self sustaining in the long run without expecting our great grandchildren to pay the debt 100 years from now (which cannot be said about the Obama stimulus plan).  I have always been a supporter of SPARC, but it is just nice when you have a big wig from D.C. come down and pat you on the back.  (Thumbs up Mayor and staff).

For a complete bio and CV on Mr. Rypkema, please click here.  Otherwise, below is the Town Talk article on the opening session.

Economist says SPARC is city’s stimulus plan
By RT Morgan • • April 30, 2009
Preservation and reuse of the city of Alexandria’s older buildings could provide relief during an economic downturn, according to an expert on the economic benefits of historic preservation.

Donovan Rypkema categorized a city’s move toward historic preservation as a key to establishing sustainable economic development.

Rypkema, an internationally known economics professional, was in Alexandria on Wednesday as the keynote speaker for the 30th annual Louisiana Preservation Conference.

Based in Washington, D.C., Rypkema is the principal economist for PlaceEconomics, a real estate and economic development consulting firm. He is also the author of several books and articles concerning economic development, downtown redevelopment and historic preservation.

His comments on preserving and repairing existing assets coincide with a plan that has already been implemented by the city of Alexandria’s administration, the $96 million SPARC plan — Special Planned Activity Redevelopment Corridors.

Rypkema referred to the far-reaching development project as Alexandria’s stimulus plan. He was briefed on SPARC by members of the city administration.

Kay Michiels, the city’s chief operating officer/interim planning director, said she “drug (Rypkema) all over town” and picked his brain on development.

For the most part, Rypkema believes the city of Alexandria is headed in the right direction. He said SPARC meets a few specific goals, including long-term public gain and the focus on areas that warrant re-investment.

By operation, SPARC breaks the city into three Cultural Restoration Areas, primarily parts of Alexandria that have been economically left behind.

The strategy is right, Rypkema said of the city’s push to re-engage forgotten infrastructure, such as buildings, sidewalks and roads. He likened the current limited use of downtown’s sidewalks and roads to “piddling away tax dollars.” This is a result of growth that’s been left unchecked and uncontrolled.