Friday, April 24, 2015

The Case for the Market St. Streetcar Line

I
I am a big fan of streetcars and their potential to have transformative effects on neighborhoods and cities as a whole.  I am so much of a fan and believer that I have written several post on why I think they can and will work in Louisville and I also started the Louisvillians for Modern Mass Transit Facebook page to promote the idea.

However, even with all of the evidence that suggest that streetcars are in fact a great driver of economic development, urban development, and mobility there is still a lot of resistance. The main criticism seems to be that it's too expensive. If you look at what Cincinnati is spending for their new streetcar line I can see why that is the biggest critism. Cincinnati's Over-The-Rhine/Downtown streetcar loop will cost around $102 million and will cover approximately 3.6 miles (link). That is just to build it. That price doesn't include the estimated $2-2.5 million to run the Streetcar system each year. The Market St. streetcar line idea is almost double that. It would be over 6 miles long, from one end of Market St to the other. In theory it could cost Louisville around $180 million plus for a line that long. In theory. However, there is a smarter way. There is a better way.

We can do a full Market St. streetcar line for a fraction of the cost that other cities have spent. But before we get into how we can build a system at a fraction of the cost lets do some back of the napkin numbers on how much a new streetcar system would be. To lay brand new track you are looking at an average cost of $2 million per mile. The catenary lines (the overhead wires that power most modern streetcars) cost about $3 million per mile. The streetcars themselves average $6 million per car. I don't have an average to build the trolley barns and other maintenance facilities because those vary widely depending location and other things. If we use Cincinnati as an example we can easily see why their system cost $102 million. 3.6 miles of track (I'll round up to 4 to make the math easier) on average would be $8 million just for the track. Then you add another $12 million for catenary, and $36 million for the 6 cars that they ordered. You're already up to $56 million and that doesn't include the trolley barn and other maintenance facilities. That price also doesn't include extras you may add to spruce up the visual appeal of your stations (if you them), etc.

Now that you have a pretty good idea of the just the baseline cost of putting in a streetcar system here is how we can do it cheaper. The first way is to reduce the cost of laying track. We do that by reusing the existing track. Louisville use have one of the most advanced streetcar system in the United States. Much of that track is still buried beneath about 1-2 inches of asphalt. Over the years a lot of the old track has been dug up or it was torn out. Much of the track under Broadway was torn out and used for the war effort in the 40's. However, most of the track under Market St. is still there. When Dallas first started their streetcar line ( granted it wasn't the city of Dallas, but a local non profit organization that got the ball rolling first) they used the old track whenever possible. From talking to officials in Dallas it cost them on average $79,000 a mile to use existing track. With almost all of the track still intact under Market St that would be a tremendous savings.  That would bring the total cost to repair and fix the rail for the 6 mile Market St. line to $474,000. Let's round up to $500,000 and add another $1 million to repair sections of the line. That's an estimate of $1.5 million for the track.

We have the track, but what about the streetcars themselves? Here we have several options. We can buy new cars or we can get used cars. The city of Toronto is about to surplus all of their existing streetcars because they are buying new ones. Most of the Toronto's streetcars (know as CLRV)
were built in the early 80's. They are also not as wide as the track we have in Louisville. We have had preliminary discussions with officials in Toronto and believe we can get 10 cars for around $10-30,000. We would then have to ship them to another company to have them retrofitted to make them ADA compliant, add AC, Wifi and refurbish them. The estimated cost per car would be $60,000. We estimate that it would take 10 cars to run a good streetcar line. If we average the price of the cars (when fully refurbished) to $100,000. We are looking at $1 million for all 10 cars. If we use the Toronto CLRVs we would also need the catenary at a cost of about $18 million. That would bring the total cost of the Market St. line to around $20.5 million. What also makes the Market St, line so attractive is that both of the original trolley barns are still there. We wouldn't have to build from scratch.  

That would be option 1, but there is another option where we use existing track, but with brand new streetcars. This would be much more expensive, but still a lot cheaper than what other cities have done. The cost for the line and new streetcars would be the same, except we would use brand-new hydrogen powered modern streetcars. These hydrogen powered streetcars don't use catenary so that would eliminate $18 million, but the price per car would be around $6-7 million. According to TIG-M, the company that makes the streetcars, they design an almost 100% green system. The total price of this system (not factoring in the hydrogen generators and various solar arrays) would be $61.5 million. That's pricey, but still cheaper than cities and may have a much lower operating cost over time because the streetcar system itself would be generating much of it's own power.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Will The Real Martin Luther King Please Stand Up.

What was...is King's message and how is that message being portrayed today.

I wanted to focus on the message and how it is sold to us today because I believe we are doing King's message and life a great disservice. We are sanitizing his message and his work to the point that the real King is lost on most Americans today. Especially black folks.

If you go to any school in America and the discussion of MLK comes up the first thing kids and will talk about is the "I Have a Dream" speech and the March on Washington. The vast majority of commercials during February which almost all of them talk about King only mention the "I Have a Dream" speech. Pundits, commentators, political leaders, and most writers fall into the same trap. They get stuck on the dream speech and the March on Washington. We are sold the idea that all King wanted was for little black boys and little black girls to hold hands with little white boys and little white girls. How many of you knew that the title of the March on Washington was the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice?

Very rarely do you hear about the other King. The King who believed that, yes, we needed to end segregation, but didn't want full assimilation. King himself stated: " We must use every constructive means to amass economic and political power. This is the kind of legitimate power we need. We must must work to build a racial pride and refute the notion that black is evil and ugly." King, like Malcolm, Garvey, Tubman, Washington, and many others thought that the black community needed strong black businesses, institutions, neighborhoods, and schools if we are to truly be free.

The anti-war King only gets lip service in the main stream media. We rarely delve into Kings thoughts on not only the Vietnam war, but US militarism and imperialism.


"God didn't call America to do what she's doing in the world now. God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any other nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation."

and..

"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government."


The fact that many black ministers and churches openly disagreed and were against King is also sanitized from our collective history.  When King came to speak in Louisville (this also happened in every city he visited) many ministers tried to convince King not to come because he would bring trouble. Many sermons in black churches throughout West Louisville (and across the country) actively discouraged their members from joining the civil rights movement and attending King's speeches. Many of the sermons focused on the gospel of respectability. The Gospel of respectability says that if Black folks do what is right and are above reproach then eventually we would be accepted as equals. Protest are unnecessary. 

Knowing how much push back King got from other black ministers and politicians puts into perspective just how much of an uphill battle he and movement faced. 

If King were alive today there is no doubt in my mind he would be hated by many just like he was when he was alive. From Listening to his speeches he would have been against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He would have been against the use of drones and drone attacks. He would have been for raising the minimum wage. He would have supported the peaceful protest of #BlackLivesMatters. He would have been for increasing spending on the poor and taxing the rich. I'm sure King would have been happy to have seen Obama elected president, but very disappointed in his policies.


Yes, we can even talk about Kings shortcomings and his womanizing because these gives us a complete picture of the man. And if we take these things into consideration it does not diminish his greatness.

Now, more than ever we need keep the real King close to our hearts and minds and not the sanitized version we are given every year.


Why I am opposed to the Vietnam War


I am Black and Proud



From Ferguson to Louisville with Love

What does Louisville and Ferguson, MO. have in common?  The prison pipeline and the hopelessness it creates.  According to the Center for American Progress African-Americans are no more likely to either sell or use drugs than Whites, but 1 in 3 people arrested for drugs offenses are African American. 70% of students referred to Law enforcement and arrest were Black of Hispanic. People of color make up 30% of population, but make up 60% of the prison population. I could go on and on, but I won't. I think you get the idea. And for those who think that this doesn't happen in our city I give you the Frontline special about Beecher Terrace housing projects. In that Frontline special it details how almost everyone in Beecher Terrace will have some interaction with the prison system.

Don't think this is just Beecher Terrace, because its not. I'm sure if you look at JCPS stats on suspensions, students referred to LMPD, kids suspended you will see the same patterns. African American kids will be many more times likely to face harsher consequences for similar acts than their white counterparts. I'm sure if we did a study of the number of people arrested for marijuana use you will see that most of them will be African-American. Despite the fact that we use drugs at the same rate and levels as our white counterparts. In fact, several studies have pointed out that Whites actually sell drugs at a higher rate than Blacks, but by looking at the prisons you would never know that. 

I know that there are people who will say that "If blacks didn't commit the crimes then they wouldn't go to jail" or "If we hold ourselves beyond reproach, and do the right things then it will be all right."  I call BS. Study after study has shown that blacks commit crimes at nearly the same rates as whites. We just go to jail and whites largely don't. We as a nation/world have been condition over centuries to view African-Americans as criminals, violent, over sexed and dangerous. This isn't something new.

This is why movements like #BlackLivesMatters, that started in Ferguson, are so important. They not only shed light on the dual problem of racism and the prison industrial complex, but they put much needed pressure on the authorities to actually do something about it. These are problems we can't ignore away, or hope that if we behave correctly then they will change. History has shown us that will not work and will just lead to the status quo.

I hate that Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Mike Brown and others were killed because of the duality of racism and prison industrial complex, but their deaths gave birth to a movement. From Ferguson, to Louisville, to the world, with love. #BlackLivesMatter.




Thursday, March 13, 2014

West Louisville Walmart, and What Does it All Mean

 The debate over a West Louisville Walmart among downtown residents is a heated one. I've seen and have been involved in several very heated online and off line discussions over Walmart. Despite the varying opinions about Walmart most folks that I talk to agree on several key points.

The first point and probably the biggest point is why can't the neighborhoods have a seat at the table? Why can't we have an open dialogue about what goes in our neighborhood? I've been told by several folks in the office of economic development, and have read interviews from several councilpersons that these deals have to be negotiated in secret. Behind closed doors. That's how big deals like this get done. Well, that's how they get done in Louisville at least.

I understand why Walmart doesn't want too talk to neighborhoods. Walmart has met fierce resistance when they have tried to build stores in other inner city neighborhoods. Washington, DC comes to mind. In DC the residents and council people wanted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hr, and to force Walmart to build an urban store. The $15 minimum wage passed city council and was vetoed by the mayor, allowing Walmart to build in DC. However, the Walmart did agree to pay a $1 more per hour than the average big box retailer in the area, and they agreed to build an urban store.

If Walmart can agree to those terms in DC then why not in Louisville? They might, but we will never know until the ink is dry on a deal and it's too late to change anything. The mayor's spokesperson, Chris Poynter, has said several times that the city will let residents know what is going on once a deal is done. Basically locking out the neighborhoods.

The neighborhood leaders that I have spoken with would love to work with this city on bringing either Walmart or another big box retailer to West Louisville. We can work together for a win/win situation. However, with the way the city is handling the situation it is forcing the neighborhoods into an adversarial position that we don't have to be in, but are being forced into.

The other points that most people agree on that I have spoken with would be wage concessions by Walmart and the design of the store. Two things that I have mention already.  These are very big concessions because Walmart, in other cities, has already done this.

I could write another 10 blog post about Walmart's low wages and their impact on neighborhoods and the like, but I'm not. What I'm going to highlight next is what the development of a potential Walmart in West Louisville has shown. What it highlights is a complete lack of planning and leadership in West Louisville.  To this date, the only economic development plan for West Louisville in the last 14 years is the Russell Renaissance plan that I have written for Russell. If West Louisville is going to reverse course we have to have a plan and strong leadership to execute that plan.  Currently we have neither.

Here are some examples of "urban" Walmarts, and other urban big box retailers.


Here is the Walmart that was built in DC



Another Proposed Urban Walmart



An Urban Target






A prototype Urban Walmart




Urban Target



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Russell Renaissance Part 1

I've been wanting to write this post for a long time. I've written several post on my thoughts for economic development in West Louisville, but this is my first one about just the Russell neighborhood as a whole. It's also the first one where I put a name to the project (and collection of past ideas) I have been working on and/or blogged about.

To my knowledge this is the only economic development article (aside from my earlier post) written about West Louisville in the past 10 years. 10 years. The one that was written in 2001 can be found here and is labeled as the West Louisville Competitive Assessment Study.  The biggest difference between what I have written and what the city did are mainly 2 fold. First, the original study didn't included any residents of West Louisville. Now, there are folks on the original committee who work in West Louisville, but none of them live in West Louisville. Also, from reading the study no effort was made to ask what people in West Louisville wanted. Second, the cities study focus one only 3 types of economic development for the area: Logistics/transportation/distribution, manufacturing, and life science (mainly device manufacturing). There is a little about business development, but the vast majority of the study focuses on the 3 types of development I mentioned previously.

On the service that doesn't seem to bad. After all, as the study points out, West Louisville has a ton of cheap labor, it's close to the expressway, it's close to the river, and it's close to rail service. All we need to do is acquire large parcels of land (which the mayor put in his budget) and give it to the best manufacturer or distribution company and there you go 1,000 of jobs that will pay the average worker anywhere from $8 to $10 an hour. Meanwhile, we will tear large swaths of historic buildings to make way for suburban style warehousing. If you drive down 12th street south of Broadway you will see what the city wants to do. There is the old Porter paint warhouse, Packaging Unlimited warehouse, a Recycling Center, Sud Chemical and other warehouses and light industrial places. When I was a kid that was a neighborhood filled with houses, corner stores and churches. It was vibrant. Now it is a faceless urban industrial park that doesn't employ anybody in the neighborhood except Packaging Unlimited which pays a little above minimum wage.

What I have written is a far cry from what the city wants to do with West Louisville. I want to revitalize the neighborhoods. I want to bring back the mom and pop stores, corner retail, keep the historic and urban character of the neighborhood intact. Basically, bring back what was once there. If you can have this type of retail and development a long East Market street, Bardstown Road, Oak street in Old Louisville, why not Russell? Why does Russell have to be further torn down to make way light industrial, distribution, and warehousing that will not enhance the neighborhood, but give us nothing but low paying dead end jobs? If traditional urban retail development is good enough for east Louisville then it's good enough for Russell.

The other difference, is that I don't treat as a giant area of the city. West Louisville is made up of several distinct and different neighborhoods. What may work in Russell, may not work in California, Portland, Shawnee, Parkland, or Chickasaw. Each neighborhood needs its own development strategy just like Highland's plan is different from NULU's. This is for Russell, but many parts of it can and should be used through West Louisville.

                                                                      The Plan

Artist Relocation Program

Russell has a lot of vacant properties and lots. We also need to increase the amount of home owners as well as increase incomes in the area. You can't have local corner stores or businesses without the residents having enough disposable income to support them. You can try and convince young urban professionals to move to Russell, but thats unlikely to happen in any significant numbers. Russell, Like the rest of West Louisville, has a reputation for high crime. What I suggest is an artist relocation based on the Paducah, Kentucky model. Artist tend to be first movers and are usually more willing to move to distressed area (you can read my original blog post here and here about the program).  The gist of the program that is an artist can prove that they can support themselves with their chosen artist profession, and they are willing to live in the neighborhood for several years then we will give them a house or a vacant lot in which to build a home. The Russell Relocation Program will partner with various banks and the city to help provide the artist with low interest rate loans (to refurbish or build the house/storefront) and a forgivable second mortgage to further help with financing either the rehab or building of the house/storefront.

The Russell Relocation Program will also do everything we can to ensure that artist that move to Russell are as successful as possible. We will do this by being a conduit to firms that provide micro-lending (such as Community Venture Corporation) and organizations that offer business support and development ( such as the Nia Center and The Peer Group) If Paducah can do it then so can we.

The Haymarket

Russell needs a permanent haymarket, preferable on the border of both Russell and Portland. I would love for the haymarket to have an outdoor amphitheater so the neighborhood can hold outdoor concerts, meetings, and be a great gathering spot for local residents. Haymarkets serve as natural small business incubators and development hubs. At most haymarkets small retailers cut their teeth and learn how to run a business. If they are really successful they will either move from the haymarket to a store front or keep both a haymarket booth and a store front. To help facilitate this process we can connect those retailers who want to move up and grow their business with various buisness development organizations that we have connected with for the Russell Relocation Program. Even if the businesses don't want to move up, they still have provided much needed retail and services for the community.

The Quinn

The project that I have been working the hardest on and is the corner stone to Russell's renaissance is the old Quinn Chapel.  I want to turn Quinn Chapel into the Clifton Center of West Louisville. This will be the West Louisville's only performance arts space, but it will much more than that. It will also hold art classes, filmmaking classes, playwriting workshops, costume making workshops, music school and much more. This will also be a venue where you can go and watch plays, concerts, speakers, and much more. The Quinn will once again become the hub of activity for the entire West-End.  


Sports

In the late 40's and early 50's Louisville made a serious investment in it's youth and funded boxing gyms for all of it's community centers.  At the time this was scene as a way to get kids off the street and to get them something productive that will also teach them discipline. That investment paid off in late 50's, 60's and 70's when Louisville produced 3 heavyweight champions. Not only did Louisville produce 3 heavyweight champions, but local boxing could be seen every Saturday morning on Tv as well as weekly amateur matches at the convention center. How much money did that generate for the city? How many boxing promoters sprung up in the city? Trainers, graphic artist, boxers, ticket takers, bartenders, and all of the support staff for sporting events? Now, boxing is pretty much dead in Louisville. There is only 1 maybe 2 full time boxing gyms in the city. 

Boxing may be dead or on the decline, but MMA is HUGE is Kentucky. In fact, Kentucky is the 4th most active state in the United States for MMA matches. It would be higher, but the state doesn't have enough people to sanction all of the matches. Why can't Russell be the hub for training the next generation of athletes? 

All it would take would be to convert 1 old firehouse or grocery store into a gym. I know several guys who want to open a gym in Russell, but they need a space that is big enough. We did it once we can do it again.

Reconnecting Russell

Just like the NuLu Connectivity Project, Russell needs to be reconnected with the central business district. Like I wrote in a blog post earlier you can't have a vibrant downtown if you cut off it's surrounding neighborhoods. We need to reconnect Russell to downtown. 

Transportation

One way to reconnect Russell with not only downtown, but to other neighborhoods is with a street car line. I would like to see a street car line run from one end of Market Street to the other end. In order the keep cost down you can even use the existing track that is buried underneath the asphalt.  In every city that has installed street cars several things have happened. First, along the street car routes investment in businesses and housing has boomed. This will not only be a plus for Russell, Portland, and Shawnee (all three neighborhoods are bounded by Market), but will help downtown tourism by further connecting downtown with all of the new and exciting developments in NuLu and Phoenix hill. 

In Part 2 I'm going to go into a little bit more detail about how all of the parts fit together not only to the rest of West Louisville, but the city as a whole. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why Downtown is Dying

Downtown Louisville is dying. Actually, it has been dying since the 1950's. The growth of suburbs after WWII drawing people out of the center core hurt. The city's decision to suburbanize its urban core by tearing down buildings to build surface parking lots didn't help either. Don't get me wrong. There have been some very successful efforts to try and save downtown. Slugger Field, Waterfront Park (which will be covered up by the Bridges Project), West Main street museum district, and 4th Street Live to name a few. On that list only 4th Street Live could be considered a question mark. These are great projects and there are some others on the way, but in the end they will fail to resurrect downtown.

If you want to "save" downtown Louisville then you have to reconnect downtown with its surrounding neighborhoods. What made downtown a special place before the 50's was that it was connected to its surrounding neighborhoods. The surrounding neighborhoods feed the central business district. The stores in downtown catered to the people in those neighborhoods. Even if some to most of those stores in the 50's didn't serve black folks you still had old Walnut St that was in downtown.

Before urban renewal downtown was connected to its surrounding neighborhoods. After urban renewal it is completely disconnected and it's now its own separate entity. On the west side of central business district you have the 9th street divide. On the east side there is I-65.

When you hear city officials talk about bringing retail back to downtown they say we need more people living downtown. There's not enough people to support downtown retail. There are tons of people to support downtown retail. They just happen to live in Portland, Russell, Smoketown, Butchertown, California, Phoenix Hill, and NULU.

I'm not saying that this is the only reason downtown is dying. There are a ton more reasons, but I think this is the biggest. If Old Walnut street and east Russell had not succumb to the wrecking ball would downtown be in as bad of a shape?  Over 3,000 single family homes and businesses were torn down and replaced by surface parking lots and subsidized housing. The destruction was so complete that there is not 1 single family home left from 5th Street to 16th street in Russell. Same thing happened to east Portland. How much potential economic activity was lost?

We need to stop thinking about downtown Louisville as just the central business district. It should be much more than that. We need to make reconnecting downtown to its surrounding neighborhoods a priority. We need to work on reconnecting and revitalizing those old business corridors (Market St, Broadway, Main St, and Preston) so they can once again funnel people downtown. We need to visually and physically reconnected these neighborhoods back to downtown.

Before the 1950's if you saw a map of downtown Louisville you would think it was just one giant neighborhood. Not now. We need to become that one giant neighborhood
 once again.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

30 acres and a Mule

The city has recently announced that they have purchased 30 acres of land in west Louisville for the purpose of economic development. The city intends to market this land to potential developers for the purpose of light industry, manufacturing, and distribution. Several weeks after making the announcement city officials held a forum at Shawnee high school to discuss what they plan to do with the property. 

City officials re-affirmed their stance that they will market the property for light industrial, manufacturing, and distribution only. They will list the property in trade magazines and highlight the fact that the property is close to rail, the river and the expressway. They also said that they do not want to subdivide the land and that they want to sell it whole. Many of the people who attended the forum (most were from the Shawnee neighborhood) seem to have deep reservations about the city intentions. Many residents expressed fears of polluting industries moving into the neighborhood, increase noise and truck traffic, will the development keep with the dense urban design of the neighborhood, will it be possible to have retail as a part of the development, and will residents have a say as to what businesses move into their neighborhood. The city officials attempted to calm the fears of the residents by stating that their number one goal would be to find good sustainable jobs, that the city will look for low to non-polluting businesses if possible, and we wil make sure that the business will bring good jobs with good wages. 

Basically, trust us, we know what's best for you. 

The city officials made it clear that the neighborhoods will not have a say as to what business moves into their neighborhood. The reason being is that negotiations like these are usually done in private. They did say that when they have something signed they will advise the business to have meetings with its new neighbors. When asked about the design of the development and will it fit in with the dense urban character of the neighborhood they answer was the are doesn't have a design overlay, but they will see what they can do. Basically, no. 

The residents weren't against light industrial businesses, jobs, manufacturing, or distribution. They just wanted more for their/our neighborhoods. We can create jobs, but we wanted businesses that fit the character of the neighborhood, that would pleasant to look at and live with. After all, the 30 acres of land is in the middle of 3 residential neighborhoods. 

I spoke with several residents after the forum and they wanted to know why can't we subdivide the land. Some of it can be for what the city wants. The other parts could be used for much needed retail, perhaps a west Louisville haymarket, and mixed use mixed income housing. 

Maybe we can build something like they have Charlotte  NC where they converted several old warehouses into concert venues and outside concert venues/plazas. Granted the warehouse on this location has been demolished, but an open air concert venue and amphitheater ( like the one at Iroquois Park) would be great. Then you could also add an west Louisville Haymarket that would serve the 3 neighborhoods that border this particular piece of property (Russell, Portland, Shawnee) 



You could surround the property or at least build on the market street side Mixed used/Mixed income housing. There are several examples of great mixed income housing like what is at Park Duvalle or perhaps this low income project that is being built in DC..


or maybe this mixed income development from Portland..



I know the city is hellbent on only attracting manufacturing, light industrial businesses, and distribution which is cool. But why not focus on targeting green companies? The city has stated several times that they want the Portland neighborhood to lead Louisville's green revolution. There are $500,000 in loans for this purpose. If that's the case then why not start with this 30 acres? What could be better? You could couple these developments that I have mentioned above with a company that processes organic vegetables from local farmers. Maybe couple these projects with an urban farm project that grows vertically. Why not invite businesses that are the future? We all know that green jobs/manufacturing is the future. Vertical and urban farming methods are the future. Why not invest in those companies? Why is the city so determined to focus on industries whose time has come and gone? If you truly wanted to bring Louisville into the 21st century then invest in 22nd century businesses models.

This project could be a win/win for everybody. If the city had said we are looking for green companies, and we will put together packages to make that happen then I believe the neighborhoods would be behind them. If the city had said we want green companies plus any of the other possibilities that I mentioned above  the city would have gotten our support 110%. But it seems the city doesn't see it that way.  Its just business as usually.