6/11/2010Posted by MJ
Came across one of those quotes the other day that solidify a thought in one's mind that always there but never quite able to be stated eloquently:
think the knee-jerk reaction towards "green space" is because people have no faith anymore in architects or developers to create buildings worth caring about.Seemingly all we can wrap our heads around today are parks and attractions. While important they will never float a sinking city ship the way a critical mass of employed citizenry will.
James Howard Kunstler frequently gives an example of this in Saratoga Springs. The city was redeveloping a vacant property that was originally a beautiful hotel that had been demolished for a supermarket or strip mall. The best idea the locals could come up with was "a park", even though there is already an historic Olmsted-designed park right across the street! People just weren't able to even consider that an urban-scaled building could be constructed that would complement the street. Their gut reaction was that any development would necessarily be a detriment to the city, based on decades of experience of that being true.
JSmith -buffalo rising
An editorial appeared in the Buffalo News today about the success of the Larkin Building and surrounding area in Buffalo. No parks or bells and whistles to attempt to sow seeds of development. No carriages put before the horse. Just an unique offering of history and the hope for the return of an urban neighborhood that has already been mostly demolished.
We have a similar building. But we also have a semi-functioning Main St a block away, intact housing/neighborhoods to the south and a historic canal and lock system 4 blocks away. Where is the drive to secure a grand vision built from a strong foundation of non-retail jobs? Get people nearby with well paying jobs and homes and the retail will happily follow, mo arm twisting necessary.
...Howard Zemsky is an investor and preservation-minded developer—no, that is not a contradiction in terms—whose family owned Russer Foods. He and partners Joe Petrella, Bill Jones and Doug Swift started it all eight years ago by buying the vacant Graphic Controls building. Despite “no way” warnings from timid skeptics, they pulled off a$30 million transformation, filled its 10 floors with tenants and—with a nod to history— reclaimed the Larkin Building name. It stands as architectural eye candy for thousands of daily commuters on I-190...
...There are different ways to rebuild a neighborhood. This may be the quickest. Zemsky and partners have, he said, spent “several million dollars” buying and rehabbing buildings. Investment attracts investment. First Niagara kicked in $1.5 million for a streetscape face-lift. Architects bought the four-story Kamman Building. Neighborhood homeowners are getting fix-up dollars. There is talk of a new owner—and new life—for the drab, eight-story monolith next to the Larkin.