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Opponents of historic preservation - vent

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
Sometimes you just get so much of the same rhetoric from the opponents that you reach your tolerance maximum. There is an area of 19th and early 20th century main street architecture that the HPC wishes to preserve. It is in a Med-Tech research district that will be redeveloping soon. The examples of architecture range from 1930s art deco, to early 1900-1920s "auto-row" architecture to 1880s Italianate. Also, this area was an important commercial center in that period for the recently developed and wealthy West Bluff area of Peoria.

Excerpts from the letter:
"...in our opinion these structures are not historic."
"historic designation will prove to be a hinderance towards development of this area and is in contrast to the goals outlines in the med-tech plan."

Unfounded, reactionary comments. If in your opinion these structures are not historic, would you please indicate which of the 9 criteria established by the Federal government these structure don't meet? I'll be the comment is.. these structure aren't the mansions on Moss Avenue. Your right, lets knock down Lincoln's Cabin in Springfield too... or develop over ancient indian burial grounds.. they don't exemplify the class and style of an 19th century mansion. After all, that's the only thing that is historic.

If historic designation is such a hinderance, please explain the success of areas that have been designated historic? I forgot that if you designate something historic, the only business that can occupy that space is candle makers, and cobbler shops. Everyone has to dress in period garb and finish sentances with 'guvnah. That would be a hinderance to modern research facilities.


My beef is not that I believe this area should be designated (which it should) and can qualify for significant tax incentives.. but that owners, residents, interested thrid parties automatically believe that historic designation handcuffs the owner or business.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
I have a bit of difficulty with onerous historic preservation requirements.

Sadly enough,some cties that establish rigorous historic preservation requirements (not that that is what Peoria is trying to do) often do see the creation of, let's put it bluntly, busybody-staffed "commissions" of blue hairs that often make ridiculous requirements and cost people a lot of money for little value other than preserving the structures in some perfect mythical past. Some of these concerns are mythical or anecdotal.

I tend to think that we have enough museum houses in much of the United States. I would rather see good quality new infill housing/live-work construction than permanent preservation, of for example, some decrepit, decayed shack from 1879 (a case in Berkeley, California right now)

So, I think its simply an educational program that you need to persuade the property owners that you are not imposing stringent new mandatory requirements. Unless you are, in which case I'm not sure I would agree with Peoria :) Good Luck.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
boiker said:
Excerpts from the letter:
"...in our opinion these structures are not historic."
Interpretation: "Those old things are in my way."

"historic designation will prove to be a hinderance towards development of this area and is in contrast to the goals outlines in the med-tech plan."
Interpretation: "Those old things are in my way of making more money"
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
BKM said:
Sadly enough,some cties that establish rigorous historic preservation requirements (not that that is what Peoria is trying to do) often do see the creation of, let's put it bluntly, busybody-staffed "commissions" of blue hairs that often make ridiculous requirements and cost people a lot of money for little value other than preserving the structures in some perfect mythical past. Some of these concerns are mythical or anecdotal.
Yes, in the past the blue-hairs ruled the board. In the last 9 months there was massive turnover and now a bunch of "young go-getters" are on the board and relaxing the previously very strict standards. Vinyl windows are being allowed that reflect the styles of the original windows. There are studies that show that wood windows may actually be a better investment in the long run, but the goal of the ordinance is to preserve the past neighborhoods and use them are learning and educational tools. What can you learn from a preserved streetscape?

Preserving our past through small districts or examples throughout the city can caputre the legacy of our ancestors without "landmarking or districting" the entire old part of town. It's not about finding the most unique or prized example of architecture by some rich banker or industrialist. It's about saving pieces or examples of the community that illustrate a time gone by. A street of workers cottages is historic. A street of upper class homes is historic, a bluff lined with 19th century mansions is historic. A turn of the centruy commercial block is historic. You don't need to save everything, but you don't need to abandon all either.

I honestly can't see the hinderance that historic designation would put on these owners. They can still operate their business, expand them, make additions, remodel, put up signs, etc. and they can get a 20% credit off their income taxes for making improvements to the structures. The fear presented by the owners is now I HAVE to make improvements and cheap improvements aren't permitted--even if I don't want to. In my review of the ordinance, there is very little that isn't already addressed by property maintenance and zoning code already.

So, I think its simply an educational program that you need to persuade the property owners that you are not imposing stringent new mandatory requirements. Unless you are, in which case I'm not sure I would agree with Peoria :) Good Luck.
I've had the rug pulled out from me once on this. I tried to establish an educational aspect to preservation, but was laid-off in 2002. Now, if I get the time. I'll get the education ball rolling again.

So many towns cherish their past and their historic areas, I can't see why there is such a continued fear of them here.

Chet These business owners are fully supportive of a couple of the principles of the med-tech plan which calls for the protection and designation of some of the remaining historic structures along this road, but apparently are against the actions of the plan to create the protections.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,205
Points
36
Donovan D. Rypkema ( awell-respected preservation/economist) did a study of the effects of local historic district designation in Indiana and found that there is absolutely no evidence in any form of data that demonstrates local district designation has any adverse effect on property values.

boiker pm me and I'll try to get you a copy if you do not have one. A companion document is entitled 20 Lessons Learned: The Economic Benefits of Local Historic District Designation in Indiana, which provides a synopsis of Rypkema's study.

BKM I have often read of your disdain and mistrust of local preservation commissions. Pardon me, but I think you paint with a very broad brush. Just as there are some renegade plan commissions and zoning boards, there are also renegade preservation commissions. The key word being "some". My satisfaction comes from my commission making legally defensible decisions based on published design guidelines and not the "tastes of some bluehairs in running shoes". Renegades will ultimately be stopped by a court.

I do agree with you, BKM, that there are some buildings whose historicity may be questioned. I think this is especially true when you look at buildings individually, instead of as part of a district. Here, we use a rating system to apply our standards with greater or lesser intensity depending on the value of the individual structure involved.

What gets me ranting is faux historic construction |-)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
It can be a tought sell. I know that some of the building owners in my community have raised the same arguments in the past. The key, I think, is to define the parameters ahead of time. Indicate the goals as to the "strictness" of the standards, illustrate how infill might occur within the district, what is worth saving and what may be replaced, etc. Education is critical. Dispel the myths that they can't do certain things with their property, and inform them of the incentives. You might even want to consider a city incentive program in the district.* Bring in people who have rehabbed older buildings and have them speak about their projects.

[ot]* I am putting together an incentive program for this community. We will establish design guidelines for the downtown business district. We will offer a small grant to allow building owners to hire an architect to create facade drawings in keeping with the design guidelines. We will offer a low-interest loan for the facade work. We will also have a "gap grant" that pays the incremental cost of doing the work right instead of taking the usual shortcuts - for instance, we will pay the difference in cost between rectangular windows and arched windows to fit the original opening, or the difference in cost between repainting, or removing old paint from brick.[/ot]
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Gedunker said:
BKM I have often read of your disdain and mistrust of local preservation commissions. Pardon me, but I think you paint with a very broad brush. Just as there are some renegade plan commissions and zoning boards, there are also renegade preservation commissions. The key word being "some". My satisfaction comes from my commission making legally defensible decisions based on published design guidelines and not the "tastes of some bluehairs in running shoes". Renegades will ultimately be stopped by a court.

I do agree with you, BKM, that there are some buildings whose historicity may be questioned. I think this is especially true when you look at buildings individually, instead of as part of a district. Here, we use a rating system to apply our standards with greater or lesser intensity depending on the value of the individual structure involved.

What gets me ranting is faux historic construction |-)


Mea culpa. Don't get me wrong, I actually prefer World War II towmscapes and most architecture (a predilection for Dwell Magazine yuppie modernist minimalims for my fantasy house aside). My opposition does tend to be based on anecdotal horror stories. I'll admit that many business owners are too willing to look only at the short term-even at the cost of long term viability of the community. And, there is a legitimate role for conservation standards-particularly at the urban design level. But, just like a worthwhile attempt to preserve major wetland ecosystems has evolved into an onerous permitting system for agricultural ditches and even tractor ruts ( 8-! ), I get a little queasy with the use of the police power to enforce a given year or time period. That probably doesn't really happen all that often (even in the Berkeley case, there are underlying community debates about neighborhood transition and growth that transcend the debate about the historic "structure." And, the house was purported to be the City's first house, so...).

"Painting with a broad brush" is a personality/analysis flaw that I am often guilty of :-#
 

Cirrus

Cyburbian
Messages
303
Points
11
I'm all for historic preservation - in moderation. But when towns start protecting every little pissant shed that happens to be over 40 years old it gets to be a big problem. City diversity requires both the old and the new, and preservation is a good way of ensuring you keep the old, but it shouldn't go so far that the new isn't practical. If you protect so much that your downtown can't handle new growth you're effectively killing the ability of your downtown to evolve over time, which has the same long term effect and is every bit as bad as bulldozing it.

I have just seen too many cities - particularly former small towns that are now suburbs - where over zealous historic preservation ends up pushing all the functional city business to new suburban strips, and once the businesses leave the historic area is forgotten by residents (who never have cause to use it) and falls in to disrepair.

I'm not saying don't protect anything. We wouldn't want a pleasant old Main Street bulldozed and turned in to generic strip mall... but I am saying a lot of the time opponents have a point. Not every building that is just old deserves to be protected.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
Cirrus said:
I'm all for historic preservation - in moderation.
This is exactly that. moderate preservation. The commission has included other commissions with direct interest in the area, residents, and owners in on their survey work in this area that they have been doing since last october. They surveyed over 60 properties and selected the most intact, compact area to designate. 8 properties in just over a 1 block area are proposed for designation. Although quality structures may be present outside this district, they chose not to save everything and to save a small example of the past to create the seemless urban fabric of old interwoven with new. <--that was a little too cliche!
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
I work in an ugly Chicago School on State Street. When we moved in, there were no windows had no coverings at all. When people working on the east side of the building complained that the sun blinded them in the morning, the owners insisted that they couldn't put blinds in the windows because they didn't have them back when the building was built appearently. Well, after some more complaining, they discovered that they did have vinyl venetian blinds back then, just not ones that go up and down. So they installed them on all the windows (not just the east side) and put clips on the bottoms of the windows to prevent them from ever going up. They also removed the gear on the top that holds the blinds up, just for good measure.

The building had high ceilings until they installed drop ceilings to take up all of the "extra" space, and then just made the ceiling end a few feet before the windows to satisfy historic preservation. The windows also used to open, but the soldered them shut. I suppose nobody told them that the building would probably have the windows open in the summer back when it was built. To make up for our no longer being able to get fresh air, they installed fake thermostats that do nothing every couple feet along the walls.

A coworker and myself broke the clips that hold the blinds down and pulled them up on the window nearest me. We wrapped the cord around one of the now-useless window handles to keep the blinds up. At least we can get a little sun now. It seems to me that historic preservation serves only to make the inhabitants of the preserved buildings more miserable while doing nothing to preserve the building's good attributes.

The problem is that we live in a society that never thinks more than thirty years into the future. We're ready to cast away vast amounts of existing infrastructure chasing the next big thing. So people pass these dumb laws in attempt to force people who don't care to save structures, but they end up saving them as museum peices rather than functional infrastructure, so we end up with the mess we have. What we need to do, as a society, is instead of asking "what can I get rid of", ask "what can I reuse", and only get rid of something when its clear it no longer can serve any useful purpose.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
With the interest in continuing this disucssion..

JordonB, that kind of historic preservation is exactly what I'm directing my commission NOT to do. It doesn't preserve anything. I want the local HPC to view themselves as macro-managers rather than micro-managers. The type of blinds in the windows are not permanent. Installing them will not cause the demise of the district and neighborhood.

I'd rather the commission become active participants (pipe dream) in helping the historic districts do neighborhood beautification, assist a low-income owner in a historic district paint his trim, or promote the tax benefits and grants that are available to these property owners. When regulation is thrust upon and visible incentives are lacking how else would a property owner, user, or resident feel?
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Preservatinists have developed a language and a process all their own. It is particularly important when preserving or restoring an extremely valuable historic building or district. But it tends to turn off normal folks, including most planners.

For the normal preservation tasks, it's good to look at preservation in planning terms.

Preservation is like a very specific design review. In normal design review, the standards are contained in guidelines. For historic preservation, the design standards are based on the historic design and materials of the building itself. The key goal is to maintain historic design and materials.

I have seen cities with very strict design review that would not apply the same level of review to historic buildings because of fear of or distain for "preservation and preservationists."

Several studies have shown that historic districts retain the same or better property values than equivalent areas that are not historic districts. Heritage tourists spend considerably more than normal tourists, so preservation is good economic development. Some GSA studies have shown that it costs less to heat, cool, and maintain historic buildings than modern buildings. The same GSA studies have shown that worker satisfaction is higher in historic buildings than modern buildings. So there are some solid economic and resident satisfaction reasons to preserve.
 

thinknik

Cyburbian
Messages
92
Points
4
Cirrus said:
I have just seen too many cities - particularly former small towns that are now suburbs - where over zealous historic preservation ends up pushing all the functional city business to new suburban strips, and once the businesses leave the historic area is forgotten by residents (who never have cause to use it) and falls in to disrepair.
Which cities? How many... where are they? I would like some examples of this.
 

Glasshouse

Cyburbian
Messages
120
Points
6
I know a bit about Peoria Historical Commission, considering "I" am the first contractor to have vinyl siding appropraited by said commission.

In fact if you work for Peoria Zoning, I'd say you might just know me Boiker.

Bob
 

Glasshouse

Cyburbian
Messages
120
Points
6
I'm sorry Boiker, I just checked out your profile, I havn't worked in P town since 96.

But I'll bet we both know some same people. I also have a lot of family there.

Also, your blog, the bath floor looks nice, but I really like your kitchen, my gal thinks it looks comfortable also.

Bob
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
Glasshouse said:
I'm sorry Boiker, I just checked out your profile, I havn't worked in P town since 96.

But I'll bet we both know some same people. I also have a lot of family there.

Also, your blog, the bath floor looks nice, but I really like your kitchen, my gal thinks it looks comfortable also.

Bob
Thanks for the kind words. THe bathroom floor is really only a temp fix until I can afford to restore the original floor. $$

We made good progress on the kitchen this weekend. Especially considering the holiday and our daughters b-day/baptism party we hosted today.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
thinknik said:
Which cities? How many... where are they? I would like some examples of this.

The difficulty is I don't think the preservationists are the major reason for this problem. Its the transformation of the American economy from smaller, family and regional commerce to the current preference for large big box national retail. So, its a lot more complicated than blaming preservationists per se.

But, given that reality, there are many "historic" cities and towns that have seen "real" commerce decamp for the strip. Santa Fe, NM; Newburyport, MA (from what I remember), most Kentucky bluegrass towns (after all, in the land of Sam Walton, you don't need a real downtown anymore)

There was a debate in Napa, CA recently about boutiquing downtown. One writer complained that a wine merchant had taken over a historic stone building that once housed a sorta blue collar deli. As the wine merchant noted, though, the building had been vacant for years and required a lot of money fro strictly seismic safety reasons to make it habitable again. Besides, the average Napan has long abandoned the downtown for the godawful highway strips that are a true joy for the capital of the fabled "Wine Country." (They are tryuing hard to change their town)
 

DennisMaPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
197
Points
7
boiker said:
Yes, in the past the blue-hairs ruled the board.
In my days in Peoria they were referred to as "the little old ladies in tennis shoes" by all of my Poli Sci and Econ professors at Bradley.

As others have said here, work on the design guidelines, get as much buy in as possible. I am not sure why many preservationists look at how the interior is revamped, but if that is not important to you, leave it out of your regs - or even specifically give the HDC no authority over that part of the structure. Similarly, if it is not permanent (or a long term issue) leave it out. Regulate color if that is important, signage and other non-permanent things in a reasonable manner. But do it by committee with the affected property owners.
 

Trinity Moses

Member
Messages
229
Points
9
BKM said:
(after all, in the land of Sam Walton, you don't need a real downtown anymore)
I wonder if its possible to level obsolete "Main Street"s and redevelope them as low-density industrial sites or as residential.

In the era of big-box and out-of-town strip developement Main Street is obsolete, so just level the damn place and reuse the land for something else.

I recall thats what sometimes happens when a natural disaster hits. No more Main Street.
 

iamme

Cyburbian
Messages
485
Points
14
Trinity Moses said:
I wonder if its possible to level obsolete "Main Street"s and redevelope them as low-density industrial sites or as residential.

In the era of big-box and out-of-town strip developement Main Street is obsolete, so just level the damn place and reuse the land for something else.

I recall thats what sometimes happens when a natural disaster hits. No more Main Street.
I agree, look how it worked for major cities in the 60's and 70's
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Trinity Moses said:
I wonder if its possible to level obsolete "Main Street"s and redevelope them as low-density industrial sites or as residential.

In the era of big-box and out-of-town strip developement Main Street is obsolete, so just level the damn place and reuse the land for something else.

I recall thats what sometimes happens when a natural disaster hits. No more Main Street.
OK, maybe a bit extreme, but there is something to be said for this position. Not every old downtown or neighborhood commercial area is economically viable. They can's all be quaint pedestrian districts filled with unique specialty shops, and not every old building is a gem that deserves to be listed as a historic landmark., Whether in part or in total, some districts need to be redeveloped if they are to ever be more than a collection of underperforming or vacant buildings.

While we talk about neglect in depressed areas, it is interesting that a similar circumstance happens in very successful places. Bourbon Street in New Orleans is a good example. The land is so valuable that the small, historic buildings can house only a small part of the demand. Owners would like to replace their small, two-story, 18th century commercial building with a multi-storied tower. When the city will not let them, they forgoe maintenance, allowing the building to decay to a point where it cannot be salvaged.
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
So a Med-Tech research developer wants to tear down historical buildings? Sheesh... not even here in Valdivia do they do that; a few years ago a scientific studies center installed their center in historical buildings of Valdivia that survived the earthquake and were from around 1910-1920's, and the best of all: They did it on their OWN WILL! Nobody forced them to preserve the buildings, they did it on their own. And last year when they wanted to expand their labs and offices, they used another historical building on the same block also preserving it (at least the façades).
Here's the site in english if you're interested :)
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
Skel In my community, new implies good, 'high-tech', inexpensive, progressive. Old implies, bad, antiquated, expensive, and change resistant.

The only things that are historic and should be saved are the many mansions built by early 20th century wealth. The mansions built by 19th century wealth are considred insignificant, worthless, and a magnent for crime and strife.

This town has/had an incredible architectural legacy, much of it removed and much of it abandoned. The proposed district that was at hand (application was withdrawn) was not high-class architecture. It was middle of the road styles that exemplified the periods they were constructed in. Nothing was flashy or incredible, there were few, if any, influential people that could be associated directly with the buildings. It is a hard sell to those without a distinct intrest in local urban development, historical economic trends or architecture.
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
boiker said:
This town has/had an incredible architectural legacy, much of it removed and much of it abandoned. The proposed district that was at hand (application was withdrawn) was not high-class architecture. It was middle of the road styles that exemplified the periods they were constructed in. Nothing was flashy or incredible, there were few, if any, influential people that could be associated directly with the buildings. It is a hard sell to those without a distinct intrest in local urban development, historical economic trends or architecture.
Sounds like Valparaiso... nominated by the UNESCO as Human Heritage.... but the old and abandoned (and bum filled) historical 1800's mansions and other old buildings continue to decay or burn down. The money for repairs and paint for the historical houses was apparently used to fill up budget holes that date way back, and was never used for something usefull. A shame to say the least... and I wouldn't be surprised that the UNESCO would retract the naming of Human Heritage because of this. F*ing corrput municipal officals...:-@
 

Gedunker

Moderating
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11,205
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36
Cardinal said:
<snip>
Bourbon Street in New Orleans is a good example. The land is so valuable that the small, historic buildings can house only a small part of the demand. Owners would like to replace their small, two-story, 18th century commercial building with a multi-storied tower. When the city will not let them, they forgoe maintenance, allowing the building to decay to a point where it cannot be salvaged.
(Emphasis added.)

In preservation-speak this is called *demolition by neglect* and most ordinances address the issue. Unfortunately, very few commissions have the capacity to inspect buildings where owners are suspected of trying it. Municipal inspectors are also difficult to work with in this regard. The political will -- or lack thereof -- plays an integral part in whether demolition is allowed.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Gedunker said:
(Emphasis added.)

In preservation-speak this is called *demolition by neglect* and most ordinances address the issue. Unfortunately, very few commissions have the capacity to inspect buildings where owners are suspected of trying it. Municipal inspectors are also difficult to work with in this regard. The political will -- or lack thereof -- plays an integral part in whether demolition is allowed.
Or often it is not lack of political will, but the will of corrupt politicians. Not that I would suggest that New Orleans has corrupt politicians.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Trinity Moses said:
I wonder if its possible to level obsolete "Main Street"s and redevelope them as low-density industrial sites or as residential.

In the era of big-box and out-of-town strip developement Main Street is obsolete, so just level the damn place and reuse the land for something else.

I recall thats what sometimes happens when a natural disaster hits. No more Main Street.
You could certainly make this case for "Downtown" Dayton :D (Just kididng. I know there are some lovely buildings that you can observe in great detail as the pedestrian walkway signals go red on Sunday Evening with no pedestrians in sight for six blocks. :) )
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Cardinal said:
While we talk about neglect in depressed areas, it is interesting that a similar circumstance happens in very successful places. Bourbon Street in New Orleans is a good example. The land is so valuable that the small, historic buildings can house only a small part of the demand. Owners would like to replace their small, two-story, 18th century commercial building with a multi-storied tower. When the city will not let them, they forgoe maintenance, allowing the building to decay to a point where it cannot be salvaged.
Of course, once this happens, the very character and charm that created the demand for Bourbon Street disappears, and those charmless concrete and glass skyscrapers turn out ot be not such a good investment after all.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
^-- It's a prisoner's delima though. When you're the only one with a big, ugly building, people come to see the rest of the street and then go to your building because it's the only one with room, so you rake in the dough.

The last guy to get rid of his old building sorta gets it in the pants.
 

Trinity Moses

Member
Messages
229
Points
9
BKM said:
You could certainly make this case for "Downtown" Dayton
Actually downtown Dayton is a good example..they tore down an old slummy area west of downtown and replaced it with a mix of office buildings, a community college, and government buildings.

Cincy did the same thing with their Queensgate project. They tore down the "west end" slum and replaced it with a low-density industrial park.

But these are large citys.

We are talking about smaller towns, like county seats and such.

One local example here is Xenia, Ohio, which lost most of its downtown in a tornado in 1974. They replaced it with a strip shopping center and some low-rize office buildings and one high rise old peoples home.

For most smaller towns the old "main street" has been rendered obsolete by the strip centers and big box retail on the outskirts. Sure, maybe you can get a one or two anique shops or second hand stores to locate on Main Street, or maybe insurance or real estate offices. But the reality is that "Main Street" is obsolete as a retail environment. Its going to stay more or less vacant and slowly deteriorate.

So just tear it down and relocate the remaining buisnesses to the outskirts, and rebuild the vacant land with some non-retail stuff. Or if you are going to do retail, rebuild it as a strip center.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
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30
People love horror stories when dealing with government. One of my favorites was a National Register rehab project I worked on. The developer bought the building (basically a warehouse shell) for around 50K. Wih all of the "red tape", he had to spend 200K to create ground retail space and upper residential lofts. When finished, the building sold for 400K. And the developer complained about how the "damn regulations" cost him an arm and a leg.
 

BKM

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6,464
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29
Trinity Moses said:
Actually downtown Dayton is a good example..they tore down an old slummy area west of downtown and replaced it with a mix of office buildings, a community college, and government buildings.

Cincy did the same thing with their Queensgate project. They tore down the "west end" slum and replaced it with a low-density industrial park.

But these are large citys.

We are talking about smaller towns, like county seats and such.

One local example here is Xenia, Ohio, which lost most of its downtown in a tornado in 1974. They replaced it with a strip shopping center and some low-rize office buildings and one high rise old peoples home.

For most smaller towns the old "main street" has been rendered obsolete by the strip centers and big box retail on the outskirts. Sure, maybe you can get a one or two anique shops or second hand stores to locate on Main Street, or maybe insurance or real estate offices. But the reality is that "Main Street" is obsolete as a retail environment. Its going to stay more or less vacant and slowly deteriorate.

So just tear it down and relocate the remaining buisnesses to the outskirts, and rebuild the vacant land with some non-retail stuff. Or if you are going to do retail, rebuild it as a strip center.

You speak of these "solutions" as if they are good things. This may indeed be the "practical" "market-oriented" "realistic" approach, but god does it make me feel sad about what modern urbanism has become in many (if not most) American cities.
 

Breed

Cyburbian
Messages
592
Points
17
Trinity Moses said:
For most smaller towns the old "main street" has been rendered obsolete by the strip centers and big box retail on the outskirts. Sure, maybe you can get a one or two anique shops or second hand stores to locate on Main Street, or maybe insurance or real estate offices. But the reality is that "Main Street" is obsolete as a retail environment. Its going to stay more or less vacant and slowly deteriorate.
That doesn't have to be true. In the county I work in... four of the six municipalities have vibrant downtowns... and big boxes/strip malls.

But the best example I know of this is Greenwood, SC. Strong downtown presence. In a sense though, the big boxes are clustered, and downtown Greenwood seems like a different place from the area where the large retail places are, even though they aren't far apart.

I think it does take work... and vision among your community's leadership. Of course, one thing we've benefited from that many areas haven't is growth. I think growth makes accomplishing real planning goals easier.
 

The Shadoe

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Let's put it this way: I don't feel that just because a building is old that it should be preserved. Sometimes I hear people mentioning that an "old building should bve preserved." To me, historical buildings have some sort of special architectural value, something important happened there, or they still are kept in shape and useful.

If the building is on the verge of dilapidation or is simply no longer useful for it's purpose and can't be converted, and isn't historical in the sense I described above then I feel that there is no problem with demolition.
 
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