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I apologize to my friends in Chicago for not telling them that I was in town on Saturday, but that is because I just got married and needed a bit of 'alone' time with my new wife, if you know what I mean.

I was showing her this beautiful city.

I have been mostly pro-development and mildly pro-preservation, although I generally think that replacing a 1-2 story building with 5-6 story buildings are an improvement unless those 1-2 story buildings are exquisitely beautiful.

However, I am coming to realize that a lot of effort has gone into preserving old homes, flats, etc while commercial buildings in Chicago's great corridors are going by the wayside, with some exceptions.

The ever-so posh Lincoln and north Halsted Avenues, for example, look great but I noticed several large semi-blocks of almost entirely new construction mixed-use buildings. Yeah, yeah Chicago is lucky that it has this problem--I've always been a big proponent of that.

But certain commercial corridors of Chicago are so full of character and vibrance that replacing them doesn't seem logical--they don't NEED replacing.

For example, I have now seen several new vacant lots near the Red Line/Belmont Ave stops, probably related to CTA expansion. But what is going to happen to this wonderful district, full of eclectic shops and, my favorite--the VIC Theater!

But that aside, there are other districts that, while safe now, worry me in that they may needelessly become homogenized.

Let me say for the record that I like a lot of the new construction and I think we have gained much more than we have lost by it, and I hope to see it continue, such as the replacement of motel row on north Lincoln Avenue with mixed-use buildings, or the addition of new mixed-use buildings on vacant or underused lots on north Clark or Milwaukee.

But what about the ever-so vibrant and unique 18 st, or 26th st, or Devon Avenue? How about the portion of Clark between Belmont and Addison?

I feel these commercial strips should be landmarked. I believe so because there is no need to replace them, and even using the city's "Pedestrian Street" designation is not adequate. These strips all possess the following qualities:

1) They have reached their "zenith". This means they are vibrant and successful enough so as not to need replacement. Upzoning or increasing densities in these areas is unnecessary, except in the case of empty lots or parking lots, which I believe SHOULD be developed appropriately.

2) They have very nice, historical buildings full of character. Why replace them?

3) They say "Chicago".

4) None of them are long enough to preclude further development. In other words, we are not holding back developers by securing a couple of the most attractive/vibrant blocks of these strips for historical landmarking. It's not like I'm saying "lets landmark Clark St from Fullerton to Devon" or something. Just a few blocks.

Here are some of the commercial strips that I believe should be landmarked:

Clark from Belmont to Addison

18th st a few blocks east and west of the blue line stop

26th st for its 4-5 most vibrant/attractive blocks

Devon Avenue starting 1 block east of Western and ending 1-2 blocks west of Talman.

All of these commercial strips should be preserved, if you ask me, mostly because they are INCREDIBLE places to visit, and need no replacing.

Any thoughts?
 

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Yeppers...Belmont and the Red Line those Vacant lots are for the new platform. And everything that is being tore down like the Chicago Tatto Parlor is being replaced.
Got to remove buildings before tracks and go through them....but then again I once had a el go through a building on Sim City.....and it worked!

I think Chicago just needs some stronger zoning that some how encourages independent stores alongside the chains. We need economic diversity.

And of course no more strip malls east of Western! And we need to put a moritorium on Bank Branches in Chicago....come up with some sort of plan so when the majority of them pull out in 3-5 years we will not have a bunch of vacant store fronts.

Change is always coming...I am so concerned about the Terricotta building up on Montrose and Broadway (the Wilson Yards) and the northern portion of that project at Wilson and Broadway again another great terricotta building...
 

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yeah im glad someone spoke up,
i have an article that i can post a link to but its on my bookmark at home
and its in the tribune from 2003 and it outlines how many buildings have been torn down many of them commercial buidings,

sometimes it makes me so mad that i wonder why should i live in chicago, if chicago doesnt care about itself?
its starting to change beyond recognition into to something i dont like,
especially that parkway tavern buiding in lincoln park,
isnt that a great thing about lincoln park?
the charm?
why would those sterile yuppies destined to occupy that building just east of halsted on fullerton move there? and what are they doing there?
is it their love for all things sterile? do they autoclave everything before they touch it?

probably not, they probably are typical clueless interlopers that like the neigborhood but would love a brandnew place to live, not realizing that they are supporting the destruction of the very thing that has drawn them to the area,

that also goes for the shitheads that will be living in the million dollar houses that will be up in place of the artful dodger,
these are shitheads, no more no less, why are they moving into that neigborhood, is it for the history? the bars?

i would say no, i would say they just happen to think its what they are supposed to do, and its the snooty, uppity thing to do,

there are starting to be too many shitheads in chicago IMHO,
those that stand by while jewels and that which makes chicago chicago get destroyed and THEY LIKE IT!
i say we should make a brand new STERILE city somewhere where everything is brand new and started from scratch, because thats where they belong,
i sure dont object to progress
or new development when its warranted, but these developers are expunging the soul of chicago.

thats why i wouldnt mind living in LA or some place with great weather,
because i honestly am starting to question why im here (mainly family reasons ofcourse)
but why are people in chicago?
the great weather? no
the great location? no
the history and architecture, the culture, buzz of the city
and the beautiful buildings YES YES YES YES

i drove past tree studios the other day on the near north side
and it was amazing HOW IT STOOD OUT!
IT LOOKED BETTER THAN EVER!
and this was just a run of the mill usual type building for me growing up
i took it for granted, now its out of the ordinary to see something quite beautiful be restored AND PROTECTED,
that is what makes chicago special and if this continues chicago will be a poorer place for it,
 

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^ It's amazing how when you're little you take buildings for granted, not realizing how special they are.

The destruction of the Artful Dodger makes me pretty sad. The question is: if something like that can get knocked down, what is safe? I could maybe forgive that if it was replaced by something architecturally stunning, but most likely it'll be another boring piece of infill... I don't get it. Aren't there still empty lots in Wicker Park?

Also: there's a building right by the Lake Street L Tracks near Ogden and Lake. It has an italian restaurant at the bottom. Does anyone know if this building is landmarked? I would hate to see it go. It reeks of old time character.
 

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What you're advocating is an artificial mechanism to try and sustain somethign that occured organically. The beauty of vibrant commercial strips is that they are unplanned and unorganized, that's what gives them the vibrancy, the spontaneity, the excitement that makes them worth visiting. And many of these strips are based on demographic trends that will never stay the same. What's the point in perserving Devon Avenue if 10 years down the line, the huge, diverse immigrant population start moving elsewhere throughout the city?

Commercial strips have to fail. Some have to be overdeveloped. Some have to be made into bland chain stores. But at the same time, other commercial strips will rise out of the ashes. For all we know, Canaryville could become the new hotspot in the next few decades. Artifically designating something so organic as persistent would ruin what makes cities and what makes neighborhoods full of life and attractive.

I find it ironic that at the same time you guys are advocating this you are oppossed to things like SOAR, which are essentially doing the same thing for other parts of the city.

Let Chicago be. The city has grown great in spite of, not because of, attempts at regulating it, and it'll keep growing and being great, as long as people live there and go about their lives.
 

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Simulcra:

The previous writers support reasonable preservation yet oppose SOAR. You find that inconsistent.

However, there is nothing inconsistent about it. SOAR is blocking projects and is thus making our city a less special place. That's NOT good.

The preservation-minded writers above advocate protecting certain buildings that make our city special. That IS good.

Furthermore, these writers are expressing the view that the public has a right to prevent demolitions, provided an open and democratic process is followed. These writers are exactly correct.

You, it seems, would place the rights of the individual building owner over the well-being of the rest of the city. Fortunately, neither Congress nor the US Supreme Court would agree with you.

Preservation, via the public exercising its voice and via laws supported by the public, is fair. The constitution will protects the rights of individuals, but the courts have continually upheld municipalities, and thus the public can keep their cities special via landmarking.

These municipalities have not only a right, but a duty to protect the character of the respective city. The courts have held that privately owned buildings exist as very public part of the city with a very public impact. That is why they are permitted, at times by Supreme Court rulings, to be landmarked against the will of property owners.

The landmarking process in Chicago is such that the public really has to ask for in order for landmarking to occur. A neighborhood that does not support landmarking will not be landmarked against its will.

Any preservation movement in Chicago will not stifle development. Quite the opposite. The historic parts of our cities, such as the vibrant, historic pedestrian-oriented streets mentioned by The Urban Politician, are often the gooses that are laying the golden egg of surrounding high-rise development. Let's not kill that goose.
 

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simulcra said:
What you're advocating is an artificial mechanism to try and sustain somethign that occured organically. The beauty of vibrant commercial strips is that they are unplanned and unorganized, that's what gives them the vibrancy, the spontaneity, the excitement that makes them worth visiting. And many of these strips are based on demographic trends that will never stay the same. What's the point in perserving Devon Avenue if 10 years down the line, the huge, diverse immigrant population start moving elsewhere throughout the city?

Commercial strips have to fail. Some have to be overdeveloped. Some have to be made into bland chain stores. But at the same time, other commercial strips will rise out of the ashes. For all we know, Canaryville could become the new hotspot in the next few decades. Artifically designating something so organic as persistent would ruin what makes cities and what makes neighborhoods full of life and attractive.

I find it ironic that at the same time you guys are advocating this you are oppossed to things like SOAR, which are essentially doing the same thing for other parts of the city.

Let Chicago be. The city has grown great in spite of, not because of, attempts at regulating it, and it'll keep growing and being great, as long as people live there and go about their lives.
however to allow huge entities like uic do what they will
like destroy most of maxwell street that is not organic, that is just allowing public entities to destroy huge swaths of land,
a process would be more organic if each small piece of land or individual building were owned by separate people, and then maybe one guy decided to knock his building down and put up something new, and another building was made a landmark, and others just liked it old and others wanted new styles,
and when they had a new building built it was at different times by different developers, not all at once.

the zoning laws in chicago are many times FOR the destruction of the building, like the parkway tavern building, it obviously was zoned for a larger building, it should be stayed zoned for the building that was there, and only after a public hearing and public vote to condemn and execute this building then this could occur, it should be MUCH harder to destroy a building than to save it

developers make a huge long row of cookie cutter condos,
or buying up old brick buildings and homogenizing the city isnt organic
its retarded,

there are parts of the city that have been systematically fucked up
by the developers.
 

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simulcra said:
Let Chicago be. The city has grown great in spite of, not because of, attempts at regulating it, and it'll keep growing and being great, as long as people live there and go about their lives.
I feel closer to what you are saying than you may think. I am just calling for a tweaking.

And perhaps by not building lots of parking lots and not building lots of strip centers in high urban areas...we will be able to preserve lots of the character we love. Change happens. Neighborhoods will always eb and flow...... I just think we could make the eb and flow a little less radical. Most of what we love came from a time when the automobile didn't shape the city. Take the car out of the equation and give as many tax breaks to lower income house owners as we do businesses and I beleive we can have a natural organically flowing city.

And remember....Daley #2 has spent the last 17 years cleaning up many of the mistakes his father made.....and he has done it in a grand manner. Just going to the Grant Park Adovcacy group and hearing what they have planned and view for the inner city in our future...is all new and wonderful thinking....it is different.

We can train the city and not let it be so wild and sometimes destructive.
 

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NearNorthGuy said:
Simulcra:

The previous writers support reasonable preservation yet oppose SOAR. You find that inconsistent.

However, there is nothing inconsistent about it. SOAR is blocking projects and is thus making our city a less special place. That's NOT good.

The preservation-minded writers above advocate protecting certain buildings that make our city special. That IS good.
I think that you've grossly oversimplified SOAR's stance. However much we write them off as just another NIMBY group, SOAR is a NIMBY group that is about preserving the special place that people find in their neighborhoods, and the reason why SOAR members probably bought into those neighborhoods in the first place. A city is about its neighborhoods; a city is abstract, a neighborhood is concrete.

What the writers above were advocating were, in addition to preserving certain buildings (which I guess is fine, since that's jsut physical stock), but preserving commercial districts. That's not physical stock, that's the organic aspect of the city. They're advocating preserving areas of the city that have risen out of decades of serendepity and will continue to be shaped by unforseen events, possibly into necessary oblivion. What they advocate is essentially what SOAR advocates. Preserving huge swaths of the city against intrusions to try and preserve a static picture of the city. I personally find SOAR's position to be absurd; a healthy city is constantly in a state of flux. Neighborhoods rise and fall. Likewise, I find the stance of preserving commercial districts to be absurd. Michigan Avenue wasn't a group of 100 store owners thinking, "Hey, let's all build high-class stores right here on this stretch of this street and it'll be great!" but the (relatively) gradual efforts of many store owners. Maybe now they form some kidn of Michigan Avenue Storeowner unifed block (as evidenced by all the signs amidst the landscaping), but we shouldn't mirror the present into the past. Likewise, in my aforementioned example of Devon Avenue, Devon Avenue has been shaped due to a wide and relatively recent influx of immigrants, especially from the Near East and South Asia (mm-mm... south indian cuisine). Proposing to landmark or preserve a district like that is absurd. It came out of nothing, and it may end up going back to that nothing, but that's because peopel are constantly movign in and out of cities, growing, and dying.

Furthermore, these writers are expressing the view that the public has a right to prevent demolitions, provided an open and democratic process is followed. These writers are exactly correct.

You, it seems, would place the rights of the individual building owner over the well-being of the rest of the city. Fortunately, neither Congress nor the US Supreme Court would agree with you.

Preservation, via the public exercising its voice and via laws supported by the public, is fair. The constitution will protects the rights of individuals, but the courts have continually upheld municipalities, and thus the public can keep their cities special via landmarking.
I'm not advocating that a single landowner can put a toxic waste dump on his property because it's his. What I *am* saying is that essentially a laissez-faire approach to city development. The strongest neighborhoods and districts were borne out in spite of attempts at regulation.

Interestingly, though, you seem to put municipality as a force against the evil individual land owner plotting to destroy neighborhoods. But what are municipalities? A bajillion evil individual land owners. People who want to demolish other buildings. People who want to landmark other buildings. The well-being of an individual land-owner is tied with the well-being of the city. Sometimes loosely, sometimes strongly. But nobody wills the self-destruction of a city. It's a balancing act between what the millions of different people want.

Which is worse? The tyranny of the people who want to redevelop a hundred year old building? Or the tyranny of the people who won't let him because they like the old building? If you want a case study of the former, I guess you could go to China's Pearl River Delta, where neighborhoods (some of them possibly older than the US) are razed for bland concrete highrises over a period of months. If you want a case study of the latter, go to New York City, where hardly anything can really get done without the tyranny of NIMBYs. I'm not saying I favor one or the other. What I was remarking was that the above writers were tending to the latter, which I find just as absurd as the former.

These municipalities have not only a right, but a duty to protect the character of the respective city. The courts have held that privately owned buildings exist as very public part of the city with a very public impact. That is why they are permitted, at times by Supreme Court rulings, to be landmarked against the will of property owners.
Do municipalities have that duty? No. Because a municipality is just a collection of people. And I'm not going to be fascist and say that people MUST preserve their historical heritage. If they want shiny new things (tm), they can do what China is doing. If they want hundred-year-old buildings, they can do what NYC is doing. It is egotistical to say that any one group of people has pinpointed the "character" of their city, and that they can easily preserve the shining examples of that "character." Especially since none of us have divining tops and can see what truly are worth perserving in the future. Penn Station was knocked down and people didn't care, cause, guess what, every building looked like Penn Station then. The character of a city changes and is not going to be shaped by the curmudgeonly presence of a few old buildings that the people a hundred years ago thought were nice and worth keeping. Again, I'm not saying that we shoudl knock everything down, I'm saying that their is no DUTY on the part of the people to preserve their heritage. I think it's nice to preserve historically and architecturally significant buildings, but by no means do I think that everyone should feel obligated to. One man's Aqua is another man's Grand Plaza in many cases.

Any preservation movement in Chicago will not stifle development. Quite the opposite. The historic parts of our cities, such as the vibrant, historic pedestrian-oriented streets mentioned by The Urban Politician, are often the gooses that are laying the golden egg of surrounding high-rise development. Let's not kill that goose.
Again, I'm not killng the goose. I just found TUP et al to be starting to lean heavily towards a anti-development perspective that I find to be absurd in terms of city growth.

mohammed wong said:
however to allow huge entities like uic do what they will
like destroy most of maxwell street that is not organic, that is just allowing public entities to destroy huge swaths of land,
a process would be more organic if each small piece of land or individual building were owned by separate people, and then maybe one guy decided to knock his building down and put up something new, and another building was made a landmark, and others just liked it old and others wanted new styles,
and when they had a new building built it was at different times by different developers, not all at once.
What is organic? An iffy definition, I'll admit. UIC demolishing Little Italy and Maxwell Street? Organic. Your plan of somehow creating an idyllic utilitarian world where everyone is a small landowner? Inorganic. Artifical intrustion. If the UIC hadn't demolished the Maxwell Street life, would they then have learned their lesson and begun developing the much-more-enlightened college-town-like developments (forgot the specific name)? You have to realize that cities will be around for many many many more times than your lifetime. Stupid things will be done. Sometimes, invariably incredibly obnoxiously stupid things. What can we do? Bemoan it, woe it, and learn from it. The city becomes stronger as a result. Trying to implement something that will keep the city frozen in a status quo for all eternity? That will just lead to death and annihilation. Parts of the city has to die so that others can grow. It's just life.

the zoning laws in chicago are many times FOR the destruction of the building, like the parkway tavern building, it obviously was zoned for a larger building, it should be stayed zoned for the building that was there, and only after a public hearing and public vote to condemn and execute this building then this could occur, it should be MUCH harder to destroy a building than to save it
I'm not well versed enough in zoning law, and I don't think you are either. However, think of what you're suggesting. Easier to save a building than to destroy one? Sure, it's a tragedy that we lose certain buildings to the pages of history... but for every building we bemoan, there are going to be thousands of bland buildings we coudl care less about. And you're honestly willing to make it easier for a few piddling people to save these absolutely hideous buildings in favor of progress? Again, you're suggesting a tool that will destroy organic growth if anyone can save a building that they remember fondly from their childhood.

developers make a huge long row of cookie cutter condos,
or buying up old brick buildings and homogenizing the city isnt organic
its retarded,
Remember decades ago when critics bemoaned and despised the proliferation of New York brownstones? Or the sickening spread of the Boston townhome (you know the kind)? Interestingly, hot properties now. For all you know, this generation's pile of steaming crap could be the next generation's hidden jewel. You're free to express your opinion (and I think they're ugly, too), but trying to regulate that is absurd.

Everyone hated the Eiffel Tower when it was first built. If you had it your way, it never would be built.

there are parts of the city that have been systematically fucked up
by the developers.
And there are other parts that are being pulled up from the ashes by developers. For every Maxwell Street, there's going to be a Wicker Park. For every Canaryville, a Woodlawn. Don't just focus on how developers are "systematically ****"ing up the city, because developers are also the reason why the city is on the rise. There's no conspiracy, there's no systemic attempt by a group of developers to destroy the city. There are only dumb people who do dumb things, and hopefully they'll learn from their dumb things. And trying to regulate that is really absurd. By definition, there will always be ugly buildings (because ugly is relative), and by trying to restrict the Loewenbergs, you may end up strangling the Gangs.

EDIT: fixed some ambiguities. Sorry, didn't think I'd ramble on for so long.
 

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i agree with SOME of what you say simulcra
some, but destroying the artful dodger is like ripping the heart out of bucktown,
when you take out a mixed use building, you take out the meeting center of the adjacent community, who is going to hangout at the million dollar houses there?
the shitheads who live there and thats it, you might as well turn it into a gated community,

that was most of the charm of that specific area, that you could hang out at the neighborhood bar and had fun there, even if you didnt live there,
i hope that chicago learns from its mistakes, because it making a whole lot of them,

you paint a strange picture of me, would i be against the effiel?
nope,
i like alot of the current projects,
especially trump tower, that is freaking awesome,
they have come up with some great things in the recent years in chicago,
but they have equally done alot of idiotic ones,
i would say right now chicago is about even with the good and bad decision making,

no i think urban politician is making a very valid point,

simulcra you are wrong in saying that landmarking a district is not part of an organic city, sometimes a part of the city is so special and so unique that it is landmarked to stop its destruction and then that part of the city will have that special charm,
does landmarking keep that building and area completely static?
nope, what it does is keep the buildings extant, but the businesses and tenats there will always change with perhaps a few rare examples of old businesses that dont close,

i believe that landmarking areas IS a part of the organic process,
look at west village in newyork and the village and soho,
think that these areas will get razed? even a sizable chunk of it razed?
i dont think so,
everything is organic as we are organic creatures,
so i was wrong in saying that what uic did wasnt organic,
because uic is controlled by carbon based lifeforms
 

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Just because some housing that was criticized when it was first built is now a hot property does not necessarily mean that this will always be the case.

I agree fully that experimenting is necessary in order to move the city forward, but I also think that experimenting should involve an education. The fact is that a lot that goes up is a half-assed effort, and it shows.
 

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mohammed wong said:
does landmarking keep that building and area completely static?
nope, what it does is keep the buildings extant, but the businesses and tenats there will always change with perhaps a few rare examples of old businesses that dont close,
landmarking a building is different from trying to landmark an area.

I hope you read what you're saying, because there are some things you say that just don't make sense. Soho? You realize that decades ago soho wasn't soho, right? And who are you to predict the future? How do you know that hundred years down the line, Greenwich Village will go down the crapper while Harlem gets a renaissance. Landmarking the Village would be to its detriment, as you would remove the fluidity necessary for the Village to come back from such a downfall. Given, this is a highly hypothetical situation.

sometimes a part of the city is so special and so unique that it is landmarked to stop its destruction and then that part of the city will have that special charm,
What you fail to grasp from my argument (whether I was obtuse or whether you just didn't acknowledge) is that the "charm" of a certain part of the city comes about organically, and isn't something that you can just control and regulate. "Oh, Wicker Park is a hot bohemian neighborhood. Let's landmark the entire neighborhood so it'll stay that way for ever and ever." That's naive and it's blatantly false. Areas are constantly on the change because the city is constantly in the change and trying to keep an area physically static to preserve the nonphysical nature of a city works to the city's detriment.

Just because some housing that was criticized when it was first built is now a hot property does not necessarily mean that this will always be the case.
I was just pulling up examples to illustrate my point that we shouldn't be arrogant enough to claim that our aesthetic tastes will extend in the future for all eternity. Most of urban history is shaped by half-assed attempts and trying to regulate that is absurd. It's one thing to try and make sure a significant, 2000 foot building meets some design standards, it's another thing to make sure every townhome developer meets some minimum aesthetic standards (beyond market requirements).
 

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what is the tradition in europe?
personally i understand some development, but i dont think that chicago is totally fucked up and needs a WHOLE LOT of new shit,

I am more in favor of chicago spreading or atleast the city density spreading throughout the suburbs, and knocking down single family homes, keeping some for posterity ofcourse,
infill is totally understandable, but
knocking down a two flat for a three flat and condos
the parkway tavern example is just fucking idiotic,

the suburbs is what needs a WHOLE LOT Of fixing,
not chicago,
ofcourse there is alot of parkinglots and ho hum stuff that can go,
but not all ho hum stuff necessarily needs to go for development,

well thats just my way of thinking,
no one has the right or wrong answer
we all have different opinions, and ofcourse i think mine is right,
ah to be a benevolent dictator would be great,
things would get done the right way!
 
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