This redevelopment plan has stirred major controversy among community residents, neighborhood leaders, and outside stakeholders for several reasons:
- The process. For several years, the developer secretly purchased properties in the community. No residents or resident body was consulted about their ideas or input for redevelopment of the community; therefore, the plan may not reflect the ideals of current residents. Further, many of the properties have continued to deteriorate since the developer purchased them, angering residents who resent what they see as negligence. These actions have undermined any trust between the developer and the residents.
- The design. The current design would significantly alter the historic “look” of Brickville’s neighborhoods and replace the aesthetic with a more generic suburban appearance. Some residents believe that the historic nature of the community will be lost with this new "look" and should be completely retained.
- The funding. The developer plans to request large sums of public money to complete his plan. Further, realizing all the plan’s potential would require even more public investment, including the rehabilitation of public schools in a particular part of Brickville that has not been slated for priority school construction. Some stakeholders contend that public funding should not be used to support a project by a for-profit real estate developer. Further, residents are fearful that unless the developer has the capacity to truly implement the redevelopment plan, the community may be left with incomplete efforts and insufficient resources to complete the work.
- The plan. As part of the redevelopment, the plan calls for the destruction of many buildings, including current community institutions, such as an old ice cream store, and public spaces, including several parks. Some residents lament that these spaces that are part of their history will be gone.
Community Reaction to the Plan
Various community groups differ in their reaction to the plan.
- Several houses of worship and nonprofit organizations have begun to dialogue internally and with one another about their positions on the redevelopment plan.
- Some ministers and their houses of worship support the redevelopment plan because they see hope for the community. Others are concerned about possible effects on their congregants, especially those already struggling to afford sufficient quality housing.
- Labor unions mostly support the plan because the redevelopment will bring union-wage jobs and other promised jobs to the community.
- Some residents support the plan because they are tired of the city's disinvestment, but the neighborhood association overall is against it, particularly due to anger over the process employed by the developer.
- One group (Brickville Community Benefits Alliance) has formed to oppose the redevelopment. The leadership of the Alliance includes the most prominent civil rights organization in Brickville and a city council member—a Black woman—whose family has a long history of political involvement in the community.
- One group (Vision Brickville) has formed to support the redevelopment plan. A recently-elected county commissioner, who is Latina, co-chairs this group with a leader from the Chamber of Commerce.
- Other elected public officials are mixed in their reactions to the plan. Some are supportive because they see that the city has not been able to prevent or remediate deterioration of Brickville, and they view private investment as integral to achieving goals of economic development and regional competitiveness. Others are skeptical; some resent the fact that they were not consulted on the plans, although the proposed changes impact areas they represent.