Monday, June 13, 2011

"Historic Daylighting" in Knox Hill: What MSD should learn from Knox Hill

MSD could learn a lot from Knox Hill. Their proposal with their grab the bulldozer and 'hope' developers will come is flawed. It is the same flawed approach that this city has used for years and this city and its council can  not seem to grasp Historic Preservation as an economic development tool.

Hidden for years behind siding from the 1930's the trim will be restored and the diamond medallions replaced
Over the weekend we saw another "daylighting". Not a fake creek that bears no resemblance to its original but a "Historic Daylighting". One of the challenges that face many older neighborhoods is that they are not "attractive". many like ours were once quite grand vibrant neighborhoods. Year of remuddling have made them appear 'ugly and undesirable' but as we all know people flock to neighborhoods like Columbia Tusculum for their painted ladies or Mt Adams for the great views. Both are highly desired neighborhoods but they were not always that way.

These neighborhoods didn't "magically happen", there is no secrete formula that turned these areas around. it took one thing Vision. Vision to see beyond 'ugly old houses' and see the beauty within. case in point it was only AFTER restoration began that developers came and started building infill. You MUST establish 'value' in a neighborhood and Historic Preservation and restoration are known methods of redevelopment that produce real results.

Soon that porch will be gone and this house will shine with a new 5 color paint job and a reclaimed slate roof back in place
And over the weekend another home and another Historic restoration began in earnest.A house that has been vacant for over 6 years. The way you turn a neighborhood around is by example. When we came to Knox Hill the FIRST thing we did was clean up the lot and paint the exterior in a historic preservation palette. We planted flower we cleaned the street in front of our house. We set a new level of "expectation" for the block, and, the block began to change. people started cutting their yards and planting flowers.

So our efforts have led to another house being restored down the street, a house the city wanted to bulldoze but we fought for it and now it is under restoration and a fresh coat of paint is going on it. No one in their right mind would think of bulldozing it now. And this weekend another "Daylighting" old unattractive siding removed to expose the original siding underneath. Details hidden for over 80 years in the light of day. Details that will be lovingly restored and returned to their 1885 elegance.

This is how you turn around a neighborhood not some "build a creek and they will come", but hard work and investment in homes by people who own them. Historic Preservation as an economic development tool, is used by every other major city. Why cant our city government understand that?

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