Friday, June 20, 2008

De-Urbanization-The Bulldoze Effect-A Series

We all talk about the need to save the rainforest. we have been educated and we understand the cause and effect of why we need to save it.
Cincinnati is engaged in "De-Urbanization" of many historic downtown areas and in the process destroying neighborhoods. You can see by the photo, this is Baymiller St in The Dayton Street Historic Distict. The areas in red illustrate once urban populated land with historic 1860-1890 era homes and businesses on them that are gone. The thing that makes a neighborhood, particularly a historic urban one, is it's structures, its streetscape, are being systematically destroyed, making the neighborhood less viable as both a historic district and a place where people want to invest and live.
The solution? First, declare a moratorium on demolition in Dayton Street Histroic District until study can take place, not all of this demolition is city related, some were owner demolitions.
Landscape requirements: Consideration should be given to creating a landscape requirement for vacant lots that would require a 10-15 foot landscape strip at front with some open type fencing behind (to secure the area yet provide police with visability to prevent crime). Review of zoning, to dezone any property that was zoned commercial down to residential or mixed use residential. Consider Urban thumnail parks on corners.
Adjacient lot incentives. The city should offer any vacant lot next to an owner ocupied restored or under restoration property for $1.00 with the stipulation that the property owner submit a landscape garden plan.
Infrastucture: The city should engage in street scaping, improved lighting and historic markers in the neighborhood. A comprehensive infill plan with development incentives, to encourage historically appropriate new infill.
Input: meeting should be held with existing owners to get a sense of direction on the way they want to take the neighborhood.
There is no reason to write off a neighborhood . With what we know about 'Urban renewal" of the 1960's and 70's. across the country , no Enlightened city takes this approach. Homes on Dayton Street routinely are priced in the 100-400K range, use that to market and expansion of that redevelopment effort south.

1 comment:

justforview said...

I agree in general with effect of de-urbanization, but am a little weary of the cause and solutions that you pose.

It would be interesting to know the time period of demolition. Some may be recent, but others could have been spread out over a longer period. It is a shame that time and money are a factor in re-inhabiting these structures, but it is. The demand for homes in these areas may not meet the supply and the investment required to stabilize them may be prohibitive for the city to act alone.

A moratorium is also costly, legally and in terms of creating a study and plan for conditions. As it is a historic district there are already reviews that have to weigh whether they are contributing or not and what the financial burden of the property owner is for not demolishing it.

I love historic architecture and love to see it preserved where it is feasible, but that can't happen at all cost. Unfortunately, the city has some other priorities at the moment. These may be misguided based on different perspective of what is right.

The zoning in this area is also limited by historic district guidelines and while it should be reviewed, down zoning may not benefit the urban character.

Blotting, as it is termed in Detroit, is offering the adjacent property for a nominal fee. Usually, this is not title granting, so owners are not likely to invest heavily in landscaping.

This is a good post and again, I agree with the sentiment. Thanks for the heads up.