The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Monarch Place

What was lost.

You know that spring has sprung when UMass professors start taking their classes outside. Today this English class was discussing the literary arts on the lawn outside Bartlett Hall.

I've been meaning to comment on these classic pictures of the old Forbes and Wallace building formerly located in downtown Springfield. I was alerted to them by Urban Compass who swiped them from here.

It was a shame about the Forbes and Wallace building, which was replaced by the failed skyscraper Monarch Place. A classic government financed boondoggle, the project tanked almost immediately after opening. Monarch Place was eventually bought for pennies on the dollar by Peter Picknelly of Peter Pan buslines for a price so low that the taxpayers ended up losing 100% of their investment. Picknelly then turned around and used his low mortgage to rent the offices in Monarch Place cheap enough to suck up many of the tenants of the surrounding office buildings, resulting in whole streets of downtown office rental properties going vacant and turning to blight. Monarch Place was full, but the downtown as a whole was made more of ghost town than ever before.

But perhaps what was most tragic was what didn't happen. Around the time of the Monarch Place fiasco an old vacant building in Northampton, almost the exact size and age as the Forbes building opened as a mall called Thornes. Their radical new concept was that people might like visiting a mall in an old, historic building, with all its charm, in contrast to the sterility of the modern malls. Thornes sparked an economic revival in Northampton that transformed their downtown, once deader than Springfield's, into the bustling central business district that is the envy of every city and town in the Valley.

Ironically, Springfield had a building perfectly suited to start their own Thornes like downtown mall and begin its own path to renewal, but Springfield's corrupt politicians and economic development poohbahs tore it down to build the disastrous flop known as Monarch Place.

Hey, there's an article in the Valley Advocate this week that has quotes by me. Check it out by clicking here.

Queerfest was in full swing at UMass today.

Many came out to take advantage of the wonderful weather.

Nearby, but not officially related to Queerfest, was this display for the University of Massachusetts Outing Club.

Outing Club? Insert joke here.

The Outing Club has a great motto: "We take people into the woods and do things with them."

Saco Catjakis was a controversial longtime State Representative from Springfield. His career ended under a cloud, but he has surfaced recently in the oddest place - being interviewed by the crackpot activist Joe Fountain. Despite the source, there are things of interest in these videos, beginning with this unflattering opening shot of Saco's girth.

This is a tour of Saco's office.


P. Mastrangelo said...

you enthrall me. is that too laudatory? for those who are to lazy to click the link, here is Tommy's appearance, and his word which enthralled me so.

"I think every public servant, elected and appointed, should keep a blog," he told the Advocate. "Would it be too much for them to spend 15 minutes every day telling the people who pay their salary what they did for them today?" (Indeed, some savvy pols have already caught on to the idea of blogging as a way to connect to constituents, including Holyoke City Councilors Rebecca Lisi and Kevin Jourdain.)

Still, Devine isn't counting on many politicians to bare their souls on-line. "They are politicians, a naturally dishonest class," he says. "Politicians tell different things to different audiences, but in cyberspace campaign promises are forever. You can be called on what you said you would do in a way that old media never could."

As for The Dread Report, Devine says, "Brian can't write, neither can Kateri. The shame is, both would have interesting things to say if they were totally honest, which of course they won't be."

M said...

Tom: I couldn't stop laughing when I saw the two video's you posted of Sacco. All the worms are starting to pop their heads out of the ground in anticipation of the Control Board leaving next year. He hangs pictures of the pols and they are all his friends. Do you really believe Hillary and Bill, or Al and Tipper Gore would know Sacco if they bumped into him on the street??....I can't stop laughing. It is almost as funny as Richie Neal really having anything to do with the Irish Peace Accord.

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