Say you’ve lived a full life, but your time is drawing to an end. While you and your spouse put together a will 10 years ago, you’d like to update a few things. You want your three children to receive an equal share of your estate; but above all you want to make sure your precious bungalow near downtown goes to the right person. So, you gather your three adult children to figure out who will have ultimate say over the property.

The first child says he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure nothing about the house changes. He loves all the memories he has there, and wouldn’t want to risk altering its originality. He loves all the creaky floorboards, old appliances, and even the swamp cooler. He’ll take good care of the home, but couldn’t imagine remodeling or changing a thing.

The second child always loved the home, but thought it would look so much better with a few upgrades. She wants to put grass back in the front yard, like there used to be, maybe add a covered patio to the backyard to better entertain guests, and open up the floor plan to allow better flow between the kitchen and dining room. She’d love to take the quaint bungalow and bring it up to its full potential.

The last child always thought the bungalow would serve the family better if they turned it into a rental. With all the siblings currently paying off their own mortgages, the extra bump in monthly revenue would be really nice. She doesn’t even need to own it outright; all three kids could own it and split the monthly rent revenue. Yeah, it would be quaint to live in the old house, but the value of the home would benefit the whole family as a rental instead of benefiting just one as a home.

Which one values your home the most? Do you think any of your kids hate the home? Does the one who wants to preserve the bungalow’s originality cherish the home the most? Does improving the home spoil its memory, or does it honor it by filling it with new life? Should you choose the option that benefits one or everyone?

Who would you give the keys to?

Why?

So, how does that apply to how we should treat Tucson’s redevelopment?

Should we maintain its originality, improve where we can, or use the property to benefit as many citizens as possible?

Maybe the very best thing for Tucson isn’t for everyone to buy into one camp and one camp alone, rather for everyone to push his or her camp to be the very best at achieving its decided goal.

If you want to maintain Tucson’s originality, aim for Arizona Inn, not Tucson Inn. Maintaining originality cannot be an excuse for letting the weeds grow in. If you want to improve Tucson through redevelopment, do so in a way that accentuates what makes Tucson special. We need to build upon what we have, not in spite of it. Lastly, if you want the greatest number of people to benefit from what we have in Tucson, we need safety and livability to go hand and hand with affordability. We need neighborhoods to draw people in, not push them away.

Tucson hasn’t reached its potential yet, we haven’t done our historical neighborhoods enough justice, nor have we made the city livable and safe for everyone. We can do better… so let’s do better.

Louie Christensen is a lifelong Tucsonan, living and working in the city he loves.