November 09 2011

The Columbus Racetrack: An Interview with Trek Micacchione

A new racetrack will be located in the heart of Columbus, Ohio. However, in order for this to happen the district will be rezoned. The proposed site lies at the old Cooper Stadium within the historic Franklinton neighborhood. Because of the location, sound walls and a curfew was a must; and although this was a good place to start, the process was far more complex.

On October 16, I sat down with Trek Micacchione to discuss a proposal to turn the old Cooper Stadium into a racetrack. Through this interview I gained greater insight into the Columbus Racetrack and the collaborations that were necessary to make this idea a realization. Trek Micacchione is an intern with the City of Columbus who worked on the project this past summer. He is studying Law at Capital University; therefore, much of his work was legal-based zoning of the district. The City Council had to work with the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). The BZA ensured that all specifications were up to par, including allowances, noise, jobs, etc. Meanwhile, Mr. Micacchione worked on the legality of the proposal, as well as insurance, in case the racetrack was a flop.

The contractor, Arshot Corporation, was rewarded a 78% tax abatement, but had to pay the City money up front for redevelopment if the racetrack was financially unsuccessful. The contractor also had to construct all sound walls, in addition to allowing BZA bimonthly inspections on agreed upon performance metrics.

Furthermore, the City Council had to coordinate with the City Commissioners, as well as all Neighborhood Commissions.  The main vehicle of agreement was a long series of negotiations in which Mr. Micacchione took part. The racetrack would bring jobs and help to revamp Franklinton. To quell of the Franklinton Neighborhood Association, operations will not begin before 7 am or after 10 pm. Also, the Racetrack must host a facility for automotive research.

This sounds great, it seems as though all interested parties got their way (or part of their way). Any plan, however, no matter how good, can have unintended consequences. For instance, the racetrack could potentially destroy the neighborhood fabric. Whatever positive mechanisms existed before the racetrack could be ripped apart, kind of like what Urban Renewal did to vibrant urban communities across America. The city planner, or the environmental designer must act as a mediator to bring all of the actors involved together and ensure that each will play his or her part in keeping a redevelopment plan alive. Still, there’s only so much that can be controlled. Other than that, incremental changes must take precedence.

Ensuring the legality of process and implementation, and involvement of each actor and/or association was the role of Mr. Micacchione, all else will unfold pretty much as it wants to.

Pertaining to this article: Should a planner act primarily as mediator? Should only incremental changes be administered? Is cooperation the most effective way to plan?

Jeff P Jilek

Jeff Jilek has earned a B.S. in Architecture with a Minor in City & Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. He has been involved with architecture since his junior year of High School when he attended Eastland Career Center’s Architecture program. Sustainable Design is something that he is most interested in but also has taken many college level courses in psychology, political science, and philosophy. He will be attends Arizona State University for continuing education. He is pursuing both his M.B.A and Master of Architecture degrees. He blogged about pertinent issues in design and how design relates to global dynamics, culture, and economy.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 at 3:08 pm and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Housing, Land Use, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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