by Max Brantley
Re the Democrat-Gazette's extensive front-page article about a former Austin, Texas mayor who said a huge, state-of-the-art homeless shelter in Austin had perhaps deterred downtown redevelopment for a block or so around the building, but not elsewhere:
Mayor Mark Stodola chimed in with harrumphing about the proposed VA clinic he's trying to block at 10th and Main.
A day clinic — not strictly for homeless veterans, without residential facilities and open only to military veterans who've agreed to terms of service — is not a homeless shelter.
The Austin Center (and I'd be proud to have such a facility in Little Rock) provides overnight lodging to 100 men per night. And it's a day shelter from the elements for 10,000 men and women a year. It is not a VA day clinic that closes every night and that it is not open to all who wander in.
I remain stunned that the city seems prepared to force the Veterans Affairs Department to go to court to get a building permit because it wants to spend $300,000 to make something akin to a medical clinic out of a building that has stood vacant for years. Here's the building owner's schooling of the city over its bald effort to stop the vets clinic, facts be damned.
PS — Here's a report done by the building owner on the replacement value of the building. It pretty well blows the city's figures out of the water.