Here’s a fine article “Our Waterfront, Ourselves” by Bruce Fisher about what to do when a large big box retailer pulls out of a waterfront development project. This has been a shock to Buffalo’s planning and development community – providing for lots of discussion and questions (be sure to read the comments).

An excellent feature is that Fisher starts from the – should be obvious – point that the Buffalo area is shrinking and therefore whatever is done needs to be quite different from what’s done in growing regions. Hmmm… why don’t we ever think this way in planning school?

Too many cities chase the chimeras de jour – festival marketplaces, downtown ball parks, convention centers, casinos, … all big plans that capture the imagination but fail to spur city economies.

In this context Fisher’s suggestion that funds be spent to clean up the water, increase public access and encourage local initiatives rather than subsidizing big box retail and parking make lots of sense.

Fisher’s article is refreshing as both planning theory and in Buffalo’s public debate over this important issue.