Last March, the city government and real estate wunderkind Ed Walker hired an understudy for Creative Class guru Richard Florida to come to Roanoke and give a seminar on how to stir up some creativity in the Star City.
The guy was here for 2 days at a cost of $25,000 a day (total: $50,000) and that has a lot of people thinking, ‘My, that Richard Florida is a creative fellow if he can earn money like that for sending a stand-in.’
Everyone got so jazzed up by last year’s fake Richard Florida that this year, Walker and the city are aiming even bigger.
They’re going to bring to town an entire TEAM of Richard Florida impersonators to drive us all out of our minds with creativity. It will be like a 2-day-long economic development acid trip. They’re bringing in a couple of Lady Gaga lookalikes, too.
The cost is only $500,000 and you’ve got to admit, that is a deal. Split evenly between the city and wunderkind Walker, of course.
Florida’s creative vision for Roanoke has an intriguing title: A Planned Revolution In Luxury, For Old-fashioned Oligarchic Leaders.
It begins with turning the city jail into a whole bunch of cool condos (affordably priced, of course). They’ll put more condos in the Roanoke Civic Center; the old YMCA building on Church Street; the old Hieronymus Building on Jefferson Street; the mothballed icehouse in Wasena; Community Hospital; and, in the old Raleigh Court Elementary School building.
Walker has ginned up 401 different sources of tax credits to finance the entire project; it won’t cost him a dime.
Mayor David Bowers has pledged to buy a condo in the Y, which is real convenient to his law office. Carilion CEO Ed Murphy has dibs on a hospital crib. Police Chief Joe Gaskins has his eye on a jail cell – I mean condo. And school board Chairman David Carson is moving into Raleigh Court — literally.
Each condo project, of course, will have its own video uploaded to YouTube.
Finally, City Council will pass a resolution renaming the Star City.
They have narrowed the possible new names down to a few:
- “Condoke,” which sounds seriously new and cool;
- “Flimflamville,” for more literal-minded citizens; and
- “Carilionton,” for which I hear Murphy is pushing hard.
Last but not least, they’ll replace the Mill Mountain Star with a 100-foot-tall neon visage of Richard Florida, kind of like the pic above.
Happy April 1, everybody!