Beauty Only A Director Of Economic Development Can See
Take a look at the Taj Mahal. For generations it has been adored as a beautiful thing. Across the world, people have recognized it's sublime universal beauty. If it were located in Emeryville, it might be considered beautiful but then again it might not; it all depends on if the Director of Economic Development thought it was. In Emeryville, it is one Helen Bean, said Director that has final say on a building's relative visual aesthetic merits; an impressive feat for someone with no visual aesthetic or even architectural training.
Ms Bean provided her non-expert yet authoritarian opinion about the proposed Bay Street Mall expansion at a study session on November 2nd wherein she told the council that the existing Bay Street mall is beautiful and the expansion would also be beautiful. This opinion about the beauty of the mall was presented as a required finding of fact for purposes of extending an exclusive negotiating right for the mall developer Madison Marquette. It's a good thing for Madison Marquette because had the economic director found the proposed mall expansion aesthetically ugly then the required visual guidelines mandated for that part of Emeryville would have been violated and presumably the exclusive negotiating rights would not have been issued to Madison Marquette.
Beauty is a requirement and apparently the Bay Street mall's got it.
Never mind that architects and artists can objectify beauty when measured against the 2000 year old western aesthetic canon. Never mind that architectural critics have roundly lambasted the Bay Street mall, it's the random opinion of a particular economic developer that counts for identifying architectural merit in Emeryville.
She may not know much about art but Economic Development Director Bean knows what she likes and what she likes is the Bay Street mall and that's good enough to grant mall developer Madison Marquette another two years of exclusive rights to a premier Emeryville commercial property. Everyone else that has opinions on the Bay Street mall's relative beauty or lack thereof may keep their opinions to themselves.