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
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.