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Cheat Sheet

What's the masterplan?

What are these buildings going to look like?

Who's going to run all these things?

How are we going to pay for all this?

What's going to happen to Market Square?

How can the public give input? And who's listening?

Worsham and Watkins: Who are these guys?

Plan Map

  Recreating Downtown

Who's going to run all these things?

One question left fuzzy at best by the PBA report is how many elements in the proposal would remain under public supervision and how many different private entities would be involved in running the other ones.

The plan—which itself was paid for with public money—calls for a public investment of up to $130 million, and it's clear that most of the property involved would have to be acquired by the city and then leased or resold to developers. But once it was all built—the hotel, the shopping center over Henley Street, the wintergarden, etc.—who would actually run it?

Mike Edwards says different companies would manage different projects—the movie theater, the shops, the office tower etc.—reducing the likelihood of a single private entity controlling a large swath of downtown. He expects the wintergarden to remain publicly owned, but even that isn't certain. "More than likely, it will be owned by the city but operated by somebody who knows what they're doing," he says, an arrangement similar to Chattanooga's aquarium.

But to the extent the space involved is public—the pedestrian thoroughfares that tie all of it together, for example—it's hard to tell who would have control and responsibility for it. Would the mall across Henley Street lock its doors when the shops inside closed? If not, who would secure it? The access routes to Market Square raise the same issues. Edwards says the walkways "would have to" remain open to the public, but he admits details of that arrangement have yet to be worked out. And while the proposal mentions "covenants" that could restrict what kinds of businesses would go in the Henley center and Market Square, it's unclear who would have the authority to establish and enforce them.

"All of these are good questions," says Mayor Victor Ashe. "That isn't something I've decided in my own mind. That's something where we take public input. I certainly welcome public input as to what portions they think should remain [owned and run by] the city."

The developers themselves say each project would have its own developer and, presumably, management. Ron Watkins says there are "at least two" developers in contention for every phase of the plan.