Sunday, February 6, 2011

Of 68,000 sq. ft of Cinemas, Russia, and Cisco

68,000 sq. ft. of Cinema. This is what is coming to Barkley Village, with construction starting this spring. The leasing promo for this development is very upbeat. It extolls the virtues of our fine city: close access to I-5, three higher educational facilities, 20 minutes from Canada, $60K plus 'median family income'.   Below is what this area looks like now  from the sky. The red oval is Haggens Barkley now. The light blue square is where this new complex with theater will be built. You can see a some illustrations here, here, and here. :

Funny, I don't remember anyone asking me if I wanted a 16 plex mega movie theater in my city. I see no evidence of any public hearing on the COB web site and I don't find it listed a "major project" on the COB planning web site.  I have driven by this site many times, as many of us do on our way to the Barkley shopping center. I have always thought to myself that this would be a fine place for Cisco Systems to employee about 5000 engineers. But Cisco isn't bringing any engineers to Whatcom County. Instead, they are going to "fight unemployment in Russia". Cisco will be investing over $1 Billion in the development of "Skolkovo, Russia’s Kremlin-sponsored Silicon Valley."

Well that all makes sense of course! Who would want investment in long term engineering positions here in Whatcom County anyway?  Entertainment is what we want here in Bellingham. Never mind that we have three Regal Cinemas here already. Or that our monthly foreclosures in Whatcom County just about matchs our number of new housing starts. You have to hand it to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. He walks right into Silicon Valley (during the middle of recession) and secures not just new jobs for a Kremlin sponsored Silicon Valley, but U.S. retraining for Russians as well !

" Russia has woken up to the idea of public-private partnerships and embraced it,[Cisco CEO John] Chambers said. “I think the Russian government is committed to creating a more balanced society” with a larger middle class, he said. "

 Thanks Mr. Chambers! Next time you want to fight unemployment and build a larger middle class, please consider Whatcom County. We have nice movie theaters here to entertain you if you come.

No comments: