In order to be competitive in this global economy, we must adapt. We must learn to move quickly, work efficiently and act decisively or watch as opportunity after opportunity passes us by.
We must put the days of long delay and endless debate with no resolution behind us and move forward, or we risk being left behind.
Today, after 10 years of widespread community discussion and nearly three years of intense negotiation and significant media coverage, we finally have a development agreement for Bull Street that will create more than 11,000 new jobs and more than $1.2 billion in new annual economic activity and generate $20 million in new revenue for our schools and local governments to serve our citizens.
After 10 years, we stand ready to kick off the largest project of its kind east of the Mississippi and possibly in the nation, with a balanced framework of clear expectations and benchmarks that protect the city's investment and the public interest and ensure a high-quality project.
After 10 long years, we have reached a moment of decision, and it is time to act.
Of course, there are those who disagree.
But while some suggest we're moving too quickly, I look back on a decade's worth of debate and discussion. I remember the public charettes conducted by Andreas Duany in 2005, the 2007 Supreme Court ruling allowing the property to be sold and the contract for sale with Bob Hughes, which has been public since December 2010. I remember last year's planning commission meetings and two public hearings prior to adopting the Bull Street PUD in October.
Some may claim that the public has had no opportunity to be heard. But I remember the hundreds of men and women who filled the room at Monday's public hearing who did just that. And I remember those who came with no agenda and spoke without talking points, saying 10 years is long enough to wait.
Some may argue that even after two weeks of public scrutiny, press conferences, community outreach and dozens of news articles surrounding the proposed Bull Street development agreement, reading and comprehending this 39-page document is simply beyond our collective ability. I have more faith in the people of Columbia and our ability to understand the issue at hand.
You understand that this is about more than just zoning designations and historic buildings. It's about creating a good job for the father of two who's been out of work for six months and the single mother working two part-time jobs without benefits, because they've been waiting long enough.
You understand that this is about a nexus of activity connecting Main Street to North Main, Forest Hills to the Vista and bringing all of our neighborhoods north, south, east and west together as one city, one community and one great Columbia.
You understand that decisiveness in the face of opposition is a virtue and that any further deferral or delay is not an act of caution; it's a failure of action, and we must not fail.
This is our opportunity. This is our moment right here in front of us, and if don't reach out and grab hold right now, if we hesitate and let it slip through our fingers, it will haunt us for generations to come.
Make no mistake: There are those who want us to fail. They believe that we cannot put aside politics and our own self-interest and come together. In fact, they're counting on it.
But you and I know the truth. Because while doubters may doubt and naysayers say no, doers do.
It's our time now.
It's time to think big. It's time to stand tall. It's time for Columbia to move forward and claim our destiny together.