Search results for "zoning"

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Put Your Faith in Money

Historic midtown N.Y.C. church to transfer air rights to JPMorgan
JPMorgan Chase is one step closer to constructing its new headquarters atop the footprint of the soon-to-be-demolished Union Carbide building in New York City. Since February, the bank has successfully initiated the transfer of development rights from the adjacent Grand Central Terminal and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On Tuesday, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission signaled the third major structure to give over rights in the deal—the 100-year-old St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. The commission voted unanimously to approve a master plan for the restoration and continued maintenance of the historic church, pending the planned transfer of air rights to JPMorgan. Commissioner Michael Goldblum called the decision a “joyous day” for St. Bart’s and acknowledged the success of the many buildings that have begun a revival process due to the deal, some of which would “never have had the ability to raise adequate funds” for themselves. The financial giant has agreed to purchase at least 50,000-square-feet of development rights from St. Bart’s for $20.7 million, which the deteriorating church will use to underwrite countless renovation projects on site. At the end of June, The Real Deal reported that the bank is also considering buying 505,000 square feet of additional development rights for seven times the current price. This is all part of JPMorgan’s plan to secure the initial air rights needed to build out its new, 70-story headquarters at 270 Park Avenue. The tower would replace its current home, formerly known as the Union Carbide building, completed in 1961 and designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie Griffin de Blois of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Though it’s not designated as a historic landmark, the building is considered one of New York’s most classic Modernist structures and preservation advocates are criticizing JPMorgan’s attempt to take it down. Under the Midtown East rezoning plan, which passed in August of 2017, the bank is allowed to build a larger office building as long as it contributes to a “public realm improvement fund.” This includes buying the air rights from various neighboring institutions in order to assist them in carrying out their own structural work. Since it received status as a New York City landmark back in 1967, the Byzantine-style St. Bart’s Church is eligible for both the city’s and JPMorgan’s help.  Representatives from the church touted the importance of yesterday’s LPC vote, calling it a transfer that “needs to happen” for the building to continue functioning properly. In addition, the New York Landmarks Conservancy as well as Community Board 5 recommended approval. “The only break in the skyline as you walk along Park Avenue is St. Barts,” said the church’s building committee chairman Peter Sullivan. “This beautiful building gives the eye a much-needed break amidst all the skyscrapers, but any person will tell you it needs a lot of work to fix.”
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Reevaluating the CHRS

Chicago needs a new architectural survey to protect its vernacular and postmodern heritage
  The aging Chicago Historic Resources Survey, or CHRS, is Chicago’s benchmark document for determining what the city considers historic. However, without contemporary updates, it fails to protect modern (and postmodern) architectural heritage and leaves vernacular structures regularly at risk for demolition. Chicago embarked on its very first survey of historic buildings in 1983 with the objective to identify new landmarks. The CHRS was a complex undertaking, combining research in archives and libraries with detailed field assessments and photography. A half-million properties were surveyed, with the work completed in 1994. Dividing up the city into Chicago’s system of 77 community areas and 50 wards, the survey work began with teams driving through each ward and color coding each property according to three criteria adopted by the CHRS: age, degree of physical integrity, and level of possible significance. Buildings given a red rating were determined to be significant on a national scale, the “best of the best” of historic resources. Orange properties possessed similar features but were significant locally. Yellow properties were identified as relatively significant and within a greater concentration of similar buildings. Yellow-green buildings were identified as being within a concentration of significant buildings but reflected alterations. Green buildings were identified in previous state surveys, and purple buildings reflected significant alterations. Lastly, the survey team included a category for buildings constructed after 1940 that were considered too new to be properly evaluated, blue, except in cases where significance was already established. Data forms and photographs were produced for each property in the second phase of fieldwork, as well as follow-up research including zoning and building permits. In total, 22 people worked on the CHRS over the course of the 13-year, $1.2 million-dollar project. A summary of the survey was published in 1996 and widely distributed at Chicago public libraries, but it only represented a selection of significant buildings. After the orange-rated 1927 Chicago Mercantile Exchange Building was demolished without oversight, the City Council approved a proposal sponsored by Mayor Richard M. Daley that would grant a measure of protection to significant buildings. Adopted in 2003, the Demolition Delay Ordinance requires a 90-day hold on the issuance of a demolition permit for a building rated red or orange in the CHRS. The CHRS online database is widely used to determine if a building is an “eligible” historic resource. Unfortunately, neither the online database nor the published summary fully represents the estimated 500,000 buildings that were included in the field assessment. Each only includes a selection of buildings that fell under subjective eligibility criteria, with the city GIS website only representing data on red- and orange-rated buildings. Demolition delay has become the most significant function of the CHRS, yet it was never the intention of the survey to have the data determine whether a building is demolished without a review of significance. The survey organizers felt strongly that the survey would have to be periodically updated to ensure accuracy. The “modern” cutoff date of 1940 was selected to provide a 50-year waiting period for eligible buildings based on the anticipated 1990 completion of the fieldwork. This determination mirrored the National Register of Historic Places requirement for a building to be at least 50 years old before its eligibility may be determined. It was felt that this choice would allow surveyors to be more objective, but there has been no public attempt to survey or evaluate midcentury modern resources. As only red- and orange-rated resources are subject to the Demolition Delay ordinance, most modern and postmodern buildings could be at risk. Buildings that were new at the time of the survey are rapidly aging to eligibility and could be threatened with demolition without a municipal matrix to protect them. Postmodern architecture is only represented in the CHRS if it is included but not contributing to a local landmark district. This leaves most of Chicago's postmodern architectural heritage absent, including all of the work of Stanley Tigerman and Harry Weese, as well as the James R. Thompson Center. In the survey, there are inconsistencies across neighborhoods and styles of architecture as well as works by individual architects. For example, a similar grouping of structures may be identified with a “warm” color rating in one neighborhood and have no information and no color rating in another. Vernacular buildings—the structures that make up Chicago’s neighborhoods—are disproportionately represented throughout the survey. Choices that include what modern buildings to include and how surveyors color rated them lack a degree of impartiality, as not enough time had passed between their construction and evaluation to make a fair, non-aesthetic judgment. Furthermore, while the original survey team included historic resources that are individually listed on the National Register, are National Historic Landmarks, and contribute to historic districts, the surveyors did not evaluate buildings that were already designated as City of Chicago Landmarks. While Chicago Landmarks are well known, the omission of established landmarks within the CHRS data makes the overall results less comprehensive. This also renders it difficult for researchers to review Chicago Landmark and CHRS data concurrently. While work has been done to informally update the data of the CHRS, no update or reinterpretation of the CHRS data or attempt to resurvey the portions of Chicago that are missing from the data would have the same effect as a comprehensive effort by a city-managed municipal survey. The Chicago Landmarks Ordinance states that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks must “encourage the continuation of surveys and studies of Chicago’s historical and architectural resources and the maintenance and updating of a register of areas, districts, places, buildings, structures, works of art, and other objects which may be worthy of landmark designations.” History is not static, and old buildings are continually taking on the mantle of significance, some by aging into it, some due to changing mindsets, and others by losing enough of their stylistic comrades to become rare when once they were common. The data that we rely on to determine what buildings are saved and what buildings are demolished in Chicago is at best 24 years old, and at worst 35. An updated CHRS, one that evaluates modern and postmodern architectural heritage and takes a fresh look at vernacular architecture, is the only way that Chicago can continue to protect its architectural heritage. Many thanks to Susannah Ribstein, Tim Whittman, and Charlie Pipal for assisting with this article.
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Drama in the OPC

Chicago Park District pauses Jackson Park construction for Obama Presidential Center
The Chicago Park District halted efforts to relocate a track and field in Jackson Park hours before a September 17 public meeting on the ongoing environmental review of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC). The Chicago Tribune reported in August that the Chicago Park District had begun to cut down trees and install fences in preparation for the relocation, with plans to build a new track and field further south in order to create space for the proposed Obama Presidential Center. Attendees at the public meeting, held at the South Shore Cultural Center, were not notified of the decision. Intended for use by student-athletes from Hyde Park Academy High School, the new eight-lane, 400-meter track and turf field will be partially funded by a $3.5-million donation to the Chicago Park District from the Obama Foundation, which announced the award after questions arose regarding the displacement of practice space during the construction of the OPC. The decision to stop the work came after the City of Chicago met with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Highway Administration, the lead federal agency for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. A complex matrix of federal funding and compliance requirements related to Jackson Park’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places requires agencies to consider the impacts the project might have on the park. NEPA requires that connected actions are considered as a part of a consultation, with the funding and relocation of the track and field by the Obama Foundation likely to be considered a connected action, as the construction of the OPC would not be able to proceed without its removal. "Jackson Park Watch is very pleased that there is a pause in this rush to make these major and very ill-conceived changes,” Margaret Schmidt, co-president of Jackson Park Watch, said in a statement. “We hope that with NPS, a new player in the very important federal review processes, a result that is better for the Park can be devised." The Chicago Park District confirmed in a statement that construction will not continue until a dialogue with federal agencies confirms that work is appropriate. While construction of the Obama Presidential Center was approved by the city council in May, the Obama Foundation has stated that they will not break ground on the center until 2019. Concerns regarding the track and field join a number of others brought up by activists, including the impact the OPC will have on Jackson Park as an archaeological site and the OPC's economic effects, as the Obama Foundation refuses to sign a Community Benefits Agreement, and the OPC’s questionable ability to acquire public land, the subject of a federal lawsuit by Protect our Parks.
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Outta the Way, POPS

New York City launches interactive map of its privately owned public spaces
New Yorkers and open space enthusiasts have something to celebrate, as the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) has released a map of the more than 550 privately owned public spaces (POPS) in the city. POPS have been an integral part of New York City’s zoning process since their introduction in the 1961 zoning code as an incentive to developers; in exchange for building public plazas, arcades, or outdoor spaces, the city allows private developers to add extra floor area to their buildings or grants other waivers. According to the DCP, POPS exist at over 350 buildings and account for more than 3.8 million square feet of open space. With the new searchable map, interested visitors can gather information on the location, amenities, hours of operation, year of construction, and designers behind each and every privately owned public space. Most of the aforementioned spaces are in Manhattan, and while Brooklyn and Queens only contain a smattering of such public areas, the DCP expects this number to grow dramatically as development in these boroughs increases. Despite the significance of POPS in Manhattan, they’re not untouchable. A furor arose in October of last year as the owner of 200 Water Street at the southern tip of Manhattan sought to convert half of their public plaza space into retail. Even the release of the DCP’s mapping tool wouldn’t have happened without pushback against developers who were misusing the extra space afforded by POPS. The city has been engaged in a tug-of-war with the Trump Organization since the 1980s over the removal of a 22-foot-long stone bench from the lobby of the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and East 56th Street. After Trump added two sales counters hawking Trump-branded merchandise to the public lobby, the city issued a series of fines, and the City Council ultimately passed legislation in 2017 to guard against the future misuse of POPS. Up until that point, nearly half of all POPS were being improperly used but the city lacked a stringent inspection protocol to verify this. A three-year inspection schedule, along with new signage requirements and the map released this week, arose directly from that vote to tighten POPS regulations.
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The Two Towers

New Cityplace tower could finally come to Dallas, Texas
A new tower could finally join the existing Cityplace tower in Dallas, Texas. The current 42-story building was originally planned in the 1980s as part of a massive 140-acre development that included plans for twin towers on either side of North Central Expressway, but an economic downturn foiled those plans and only one tower was ever built. But Dallas News reported this week that the site's current owner, Cityplace Co., is planning a large new hotel and office tower for the site north of Lemmon Avenue and south of Blackburn Street. The developer is pursuing a tower larger than the site's current zoning allows and will presumably not match the original tower with a twin, as the now 30-year-old plans intended. The existing Cityplace tower is the tallest building in Dallas outside of downtown and has housed office space since it was designed by Cossutta & Associates and opened in 1988. At the time it was Dallas's most expensive tower to build. The surrounding development was originally planned to house over 60 other office towers, but plans for the complex fell through after the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s hit the region and tempered the area's oil-fueled growth over the previous decade. Today, Dallas, along with the rest of Texas, is enjoying a building boom as jobs continue to grow in the region. In 2017, Texas led the nation in corporate office construction projects, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area was among the most active metropolitan regions. Cityplace Co. is slowly developing properties across the original development's neighborhood, and other developers have gotten in on the game as well. Forest City Realty Trust is partnering with Cityplace Co. to build a 23-story luxury residential tower in the area, and earlier this year Highland Capital Management bought the Cityplace tower and announced plans to upgrade the building and add restaurant and amenity spaces.  
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Small Island, Big Money

New York plans massive mixed-use development for Governors Island
Governors Island could soon be home to, well, homes. Or at least dormitories. The New York Harbor island could house the city’s newest innovation and education hub while maintaining its identity as a beloved recreational oasis. Crain’s New York reported that City Hall will hold a public hearing next month on its plans to rezone the island's former military base to make way for a proposed 4.5 million-square-foot, mixed-used development. Mayor de Blasio's office posted a notice last week about the hearing, which will be the first step in an environmental review process for the project. Aiming to attract a combination of tech and life-science firms, educational institutions, dormitories, as well as a convention center and hotel, the city wants to build out the development as a way to enhance exposure for Governors Island. The 172-acre landmass currently functions as a leisurely getaway for urbanites to enjoy during the summer. Though city-owned, it’s managed and maintained by the Trust for Governors Island. The new development, which would be constructed on the south side of the island, would help annually fund the costs of the island's 43-acre park. With this proposal, it seems the city wants to piggyback off the success of Roosevelt Island’s Cornell Tech campus and bring those small island–big money vibes south of Manhattan. Plus, space for ground-up construction in New York is limited and Governors Island remains one of the more barren sites in town. Any new facilities part of the proposal would be built on two plots of land currently zoned for residential development. The problem is that residential construction has long been prohibited on Governors Island, which is why the city wants to first rezone the land before bringing businesses on board. After an extensive public review process beginning with next month’s meeting, City Council is expected to vote on the proposal in fall 2019. If passed, the rezoning would allow low-rise commercial structures to be built on the site as well as proposed dorms and hotel properties that could potentially rise as high as 300 feet. Crain’s also noted that the city has already commissioned a second ferry to take construction workers out to the site. But that won’t be enough to transport future commuters to and from the development, even in combination with an expanded East River Ferry service. That’s why the Economic Development Corporation is in talks to put a gondola between Lower Manhattan and Governors Island, further mimicking the layout of Roosevelt Island, which is reachable via a gondola and the F train. The public hearing for the rezoning proposal is scheduled for September 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan.
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Towering Resentment

Neighborhood sues to stop Sutton Place condo tower
The troubled tower originally designed by Foster + Partners in Manhattan's Sutton Place neighborhood has hit yet another speed bump. Crain's reported that local residents have filed a lawsuit to block the condo building from going up at 430 East 58th Street, claiming that it has run awry of recent zoning changes. Locals are unhappy with the tower's height. Its scale is closer to the skinny supertall towers of nearby 57th Street, which is also known somewhat pejoratively as Billionaire's Row and is the home of some of the city's most expensive apartments. Sutton Place is, however, an affluent mid-rise and low-rise area, home to historic townhouses and exclusive brick apartment buildings. The project has never been welcome in the area. In an attempt to block its rise, the local populace successfully lobbied the city government to change the area's zoning to exclude structures of the tower's proportions. The developers then scrambled to get the building grandfathered into compliance by finishing the building's foundation before the new restrictions took effect last December. The city gave the developers an extension to meet the deadline, which is what the neighborhood is objecting to and suing the project over. The suit is aimed at stopping construction and shrinking the tower, which is currently planned to be 68 stories. The original developer, Joe Beninati, was a relative newcomer to the New York City real estate scene, and after a series of bad financial decisions he lost control of the project, and it went into the hands of Gamma Real Estate. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Foster + Partners is the current architect on the project. 
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Escape From New York

New York City releases final plans to close and replace Rikers Island
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has released its final selection of sites for the four borough-based jails that will replace the notorious prison on Rikers Island. At an under-the-radar mayoral press conference yesterday, the city released its 56-page draft plan (available here) which includes the final locations, number of beds, amenities, zoning restrictions, and other materials necessary for the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to proceed. The final selection comes eight months after the city tapped Perkins Eastman to analyze and design alternative sites to the centralized Rikers complex. There had been some back-and-forth with the community in each of the four boroughs over where these 1,500-bed jails would be built (Staten Island is sitting this one out). According to the draft plan, the city will move ahead with its backup plan for the Bronx after failing to secure its preferred site adjacent to the Bronx Hall of Justice and will build a 26-story jail on an NYPD-owned tow pound at 320 Concord Avenue. The city will push ahead with plans for a 40-story jail tower in Tribeca at 80 Centre Street, currently home to the Marriage Bureau. Brooklyn’s proposed jail at 275 Atlantic Avenue, currently the site of the Brooklyn House of Detention, could also be built out up to 40 stories. The Queens location, 126-02 82nd Avenue in Kew Gardens (formerly the Queens House of Detention) would reach up to 29 stories. As the draft report fleshes out, each new jail will be designed to integrate with the surrounding community and will include ground-level retail and community facilities, and the Bronx location may contain up to 234 residences, including affordable units. Hundreds of new accessory parking spots will be included at each location, and the Queens jail will open their lots up to the public. As for the jails themselves, the 6,000 beds will accommodate the 5,000 prisoners expected by 2027, when the phase-in of the new facilities will be fully implemented. Rikers's current population has been consistently falling and was pegged at just under 8,500 in May of 2018–the administration and jail reform advocates are hoping to keep slashing away at that number through a combination of bail reform, expedited trial wait times, increased access to legal representation, and reduced incarceration for lower level offenses. While the move to close Rikers was lauded by politicians and civil rights activists alike, the community in all four locations must still weigh in on the plan before the project can begin the Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (ULURP) process in mid-2019. The city will be holding a series of workshops to solicit feedback before advancing its plan. According to the report, public meetings on the draft report will be held as follows: Borough of Brooklyn, September 20, 2018, 6:00 PM P.S. 133 William A. Butler School 610 Baltic Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217 Borough of Queens, September 26, 2018, 6:00 PM Queens Borough Hall 120-55 Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens, N.Y. 11424 Borough of Manhattan, September 27, 2018, 6:00 PM Manhattan Municipal Building 1 Centre Street, New York, N.Y. 10007 Borough of the Bronx, October 3, 2018, 6:00 PM Bronx County Courthouse 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx, N.Y. 10451 Design details for each jail are currently sparse, and will likely be forthcoming as the final sites are locked down.
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Barack, Paper, Scissors

Chicago slashes trees for Obama Presidential Center
Up to 40 trees, some of them decades old, were reportedly cut down in Chicago’s historic Jackson Park on August 6 as part of construction associated with the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) campus. Despite a pending lawsuit and ongoing federal review, construction crews were reportedly spotted demolishing baseball fields in Jackson Park to make way for an OPC-funded track-and-field facility in the same spot. The new field is being constructed at a cost of $3.5 million to compensate the city and Chicago Park District for the current track and field that will be swallowed up by the 19.3-acre campus. The $500 million campus, master planned by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, has already seen its fair share of pushback from the community since its unveiling in 2016. First, a controversial parking facility was moved underground after complaints that its presence would spoil the Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux-designed landscape and the accompanying Midway Plaisance. The buildings themselves were redesigned to sit within the park better the next day. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, OPC executives had pledged not to cut down any trees until the project had passed review and they had obtained the proper permits. However, this promise appears to have only counted work on the main campus, and not associated work. As The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) points out, the new field is inextricably linked to the main project and is tied to the OPC’s construction timetable. When the Sun-Times asked about the discrepancy, Obama Foundation officials reportedly declined to confirm that the new field was part of the OPC, telling the paper that “the construction schedule put forward by the Chicago Park District ensures the new track will be ready for students and fall sports leagues.” Additionally, the federal lawsuit filed in May by preservationist group Protect Our Parks was rebuked by lawyers from the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District in June, who argued that as the City Council hasn’t given the project approval yet, any lawsuit was premature. The Chicago City Council won’t vote on the project until the fall, and no construction is supposed to occur until the twice-delayed federal review concludes. According to the Chicago Tribune, the groundbreaking for the campus has been pushed to 2019. No update has been given on whether this will change the projected 2021 opening date. On August 8, TCLF delivered a letter with their concerns to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a federal advisory body on historic preservation. The felling of the trees in a park listed in the National Register of Historic Places and what the Foundation feels is a lack of due diligence by the City of Chicago to look into the site’s archeological significance were addressed. AN will follow this story up as more news about the Center breaks.
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A Tale of Two NIMBYs

Historic preservation battles in Chicagoland turn to Trumpian tactics
Two controversial community battles in Chicagoland could redefine how historic preservation crusades are fought and won in our overheating national political climate. Both issues highlight how earnest and ethical historic preservation advocacy efforts are being overshadowed by those that are no more than thinly disguised manifestations of NIMBYism supercharged by a culture of divisiveness. In Pullman, originally a planned community outside of Chicago built for Pullman Palace Car Company employees, some residents have banded together to oppose proposed affordable housing for artists over concerns that the construction would destroy an archaeological site: the foundation of ‘Tenement B,’  one of the historic workers' homes. Members of this group, the Pullman National Monument Preservation Society (PNMPS), have gone after public-sector historic preservation entities and the Section 106 regulatory process, arguing the proposed artists' housing will have an ‘adverse effect’ on the site. Pullman became Chicago’s first National Monument in 2015, and it is one of the oldest. At Pullman’s peak, 20,000 factory workers lived and worked under an autocratic system, controlled wholly by the Pullman Palace Car Company, which owned the town's housing, factories, stores, and churches, all planned and designed in the 1880s by architect Solon S. Beman. After workers rioted over wage decreases and the company’s refusal to reduce rents, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered that all non-factory buildings be sold in 1897. Faced with demolition in 1960, the Pullman Civic Organization (PCO) was formed, establishing a foundation for future preservation efforts. By 1973 Pullman had been added to federal, state, and local landmarks lists and the Historic Pullman Foundation was formed, which went on to restore the Hotel Florence and organized the ever-popular house and garden tour. In the summer of 2015, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI) along with VOA Associates (now part of Stantec) introduced a plan to construct the first new rental housing in Pullman in over 50 years. Artspace Lofts would bring affordable artist housing and studio space to an empty lot on Langley Avenue just south of 111th Street. The new development would join two existing historic tenement houses, with the overall project scope including the restoration of both tenements to federal historic preservation standards. The project's site was once the home of a tenement building, demolished in 1938. A fragment of the original limestone foundation is present, as the site was never redeveloped. Pullman residents generally supported the Artspace Lofts plan. Pullman’s status as a National Historic Landmark meant that the project required a detailed federal and local review, but a small group of residents called foul, claiming that not enough was being done by historic preservation organizations to prevent the new development from being constructed and that the sanctity of the landmark was now at risk. The PNMPS was formed. Among the PNMPS’s original claims is that the Artspace Lofts will destroy the limestone foundation and “the associated artifacts” of the tenement building, the remnants of which PNMPS believes to be an archaeological resource, yet PNMPS has also stated that they would accept a reconstruction of Tenement B using the existing limestone foundation. Unlike the recent discovery of remnants of Mecca Flats underneath the IIT campus, which revealed never-before-seen colors and textures of the long-demolished building, further investigation or preservation of the remnants of Tenement B would not enhance existing knowledge of Pullman. PNMPS has gone after the regulatory processes of the National Park Service, the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, and the City of Chicago, calling out staff members by name for what they claim to be a botched Section 106 review for the Artspace Lofts. This includes PNMPS's unsubstantiated claim that the Section 106 review did not include African-American groups as any of the forty local consulting parties, with PNMPS playing a game of virtue signaling within the neighborhood that grew the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

WALK OF SHAME The developer, representatives from Stantec (project architect), engineers, and a "consultant" on the Pullman Artspace Lofts project site today. The representative from Stantec wasn't aware of the 153' x 33' ruins of Tenement "B" located on the project site. I spoke with them about the history of Pullman's tenement block houses and the importance of this cultural landscape to the Pullman National Monument. Do these companies really want to be associated with the destruction of a 137 year old ruin of the Town of Pullman located within the boundaries of a National Monument and a National Historic Landmark? Time will tell. Learn more about how this project went so wrong... http://www.gofundme.com/savepullman #SavePullman #PNMPS #PullmanNationalMonument #CulturalHeritagePreservation

A post shared by PNMPS, Pullman Preservation (@pnmps) on

On social media PNMPS has dragged the National Trust for Historic Preservation for supporting the project and has posted photos to Instagram of developers and architects working at the site, presumably to expose their identities. Despite the complex explanation of the National Historic Preservation Act and the Section 106 process posted to its website (as well as this bizarre video, including footage from a South Park episode about gentrification and Donald Trump’s inauguration) and other thinly veiled claims attempting to draw attention away from NIMBYism, quotes by Mark Cassello, the president of PNMPS, to the Chicago Tribune in 2016 distill the organization’s real objective: “Pullman doesn’t need to attract artists, they are already here. Pullman doesn’t need affordable housing.” With CNI and Stantec having received all of the necessary approvals, ground is expected to be broken on the Artspace Lofts this fall. Across town, the Evanston City Council recently moved forward with a plan to allow the Evanston Lighthouse Dunes (ELD), to pay for the demolition of the Harley Clarke Mansion, a local historic landmark on Sheridan Road. While the 1927 Tudor revival mansion, designed by architect Richard Powers, boasts impressive architectural features, Evanstonians remember it as the place where they learned to dance, paint, and draw, and when the building was a lakefront art center. Harley Clarke housed the Evanston Art Center for fifty years, providing people of all incomes with their own opulent lakefront mansion. As the city prepared to close the art center over deferred maintenance costs in 2015, several offers were made to take it off the city's hands, including one that proposed a hotel on the property, and another by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. A committee was formed to study uses for the mansion, and a request for proposals was introduced. Late in 2015, a non-profit volunteer group, Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens (ELHG) formed to restore and repurpose Harley Clarke as a public space, initially working closely with city staff to develop a plan that would work similarly to the lease held by the Evanston Art Center, but would include a stipulation that allowed ELHG to build a capital campaign, as the organization lacked the funds upfront for repairs. The City of Evanston initially approved a lease agreement with ELHG in early spring of 2018, but the plan was redacted at the council level, with the city council claiming that ELHG did not present a sound financial proposal. ELHG counterclaims that the city never allowed them to use pledges as fundraising benchmarks, placing the organization in a difficult position, but one that they worked with the city directly to negotiate. Despite this setback, ELHG continues to advocate for the Harley Clarke Mansion, a contributing property to a National Register of Historic Places landmark district, and a City of Evanston local landmark. In May of 2018, Evanston aldermen introduced a proposal by ELD to pledge $400,000 towards the demolition of the mansion. ELD has justified the demolition as a way to absolve Evanston of the financial burden of deferred maintenance and upkeep, as well as a way to open up the lakefront to the public, restore the natural setting of the beach and dunes, and improve the viewshed of the neighboring Grosse Point Lighthouse. According to ELD, demolition of the mansion would also honor the City of Evanston’s Lakefront Master Plan.  Conveniently, the demolition of Harley Clarke would also ensure that no public or private entity could gain ownership or operation of the mansion, be it a boutique hotel or a public art center. While ELD has not disclosed a list of funders, those that have publicly aligned themselves with the organization live nearby, leading to speculation that the demolition of Harley Clarke might provide ELD members with precious views of the lakefront. Views of Lake Michigan would be a boon to real estate values in a neighborhood where home values hover just below $2 million. This has led to the speculation that the 41 individuals, couples, and one family organization that have provided money to ELD may include city leaders, explaining the ability for a previously unknown organization to get out in front of city government so quickly and so easily. The ELD has recently offered to pay for the full price of demolition and restoration of the dunes and Jens Jensen garden, but has stated that the money will only be available to the City of Evanston for two years. Recently softening their preservation ordinance yet still welding substantial power to prevent new construction in historic districts, the City of Evanston needs only to remove the mansion from their list of local landmarks in order to capitalize on private funds for demolition. This differs from the complex matrix in play to review the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, which includes consultation with local and federal agencies. Perhaps the cases in both Pullman and in Evanston echo a larger national political trend of Trumpian normalcy now seeping into historic preservation. Attacking long-standing organizations and entities when they come down with a less than ideal determination is becoming acceptable behavior, and the public sector can be increasingly enticed with private money to do things that affect a greater population that lack the funds to influence political decisions. These changes, combined with historic preservation’s tendency to turn a blind eye to any accusation of NIMBYism, whether accurate or not, weaken the field's ability to protect historic resources for the good of our collective culture. As the larger field of architecture works towards a long-overdue reset of abusive practices within it and associated with it, historic preservation, too must take a timely look at how its tactics are implemented, and who will benefit from them.
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Petrourbanism

Initial notes on Houston after theory
1 We landed in Houston two weeks before the storm. For newcomers to Texas, Hurricane Harvey provided a terrifying crash course in the geography and hydrology of the city, its micro-differences in topography and macro-differences in resources across the city’s communities. We were told that after the water receded, nothing would be the same, that the magnitude and destruction of the storm would simply be too hard to ignore. Yet less than a year later, as rebuilding continues on the verge of another hurricane season, it is hard to see how much—if anything—has changed for the better. Money was spent reconstructing homes on their original sites, and large-scale infrastructures that were designed to flood, like Buffalo Bayou Park, have performed admirably well as examples for designing resilient landscapes in Houston and elsewhere. A slew of well-intentioned policy reports were issued in the wake of Harvey, many reiterating similar proposals that preceded the storm, seemingly to little avail. The heuristic measures of the so-called 500-year event were questioned in light of a new reality in which such mega-storms will now be separated by years, not centuries. And then the city went back, it seems, to the combination of development and dread that has apparently become the new normal. 2 I came to Houston expecting to tap into a rich body of urban writing from the late 1970s to the 2000s that placed the city firmly at the center of broader attempts to theorize the contemporary metropolis. These formed part of what Joel Warren Barna described as “a long American tradition of minority reports” in which the social, political, economic, and psychological dimensions of architecture and the city were probed. Houston’s horizontal field provided an ideal environment for such speculations. For Joe Feagin, it offered the example par excellence of the “free enterprise city,” a case study of the unceasing urban transformations wrought by capitalist development unburdened by zoning. For Doug Milburn, Houston was “the last American city,” characterized by its ever-unfinished status as process rather than product. For Lars Lerup, its diffuse ecology of mega-shapes and micro-stimuli heralded the demise of the traditional city: a fluid condition of natural and artificial strata, a metastasizing field of events and affects punctuated by moments of stim and dross. At its peak, metropolitan Houston served as a radical testing ground for new ways of understanding the relentless permutations of 20th-century urbanism at large. Far from finding new extensions of these threads of writing the metropolis, probing their limits, or harnessing their potential for new speculations, instead, I encountered a city that seemed to have little nostalgia not just for its architecture, but also for its own prior theorizations. While cities like New York and Los Angeles capitalize on the major authors of their urban histories, Houston, by comparison, has largely fallen out of the center of contemporary discussions of urbanism and its possible futures. The most significant attempts to characterize Houston ultimately left a shrinking footprint on the contemporary urban scene, perhaps condemned by their avoidance of fixed definitions in relation to a metropolis endlessly in becoming. 3 Perhaps the major characteristic of Houston in the age of its most provocative theorizations was its lateness. An economy centered on petro-capital meant that its cycles of boom and bust happened a full decade out of step with urban development elsewhere in the U.S., with its peak following the spike in crude oil prices in the 1970s at the same time that the rest of the nation suffered from a deep recession. The city was similarly subject to the end of the oil boom in dramatic fashion, as plans to build the world’s tallest tower in Houston ran aground as prices crashed after 1983. The city’s authors reinforced the sense of Houston as late: for Milburn, the “last” truly American city in its combination of frenetic pace and untimely development; for Lerup, a model for what comes “after” the conventional city. Inevitably, Houston became a capital of late modernism and its manifestations. These included lapidary icons of petro-development, like the faceted, symmetrical towers of Pennzoil Place (Johnson/Burgee, 1976), along with local masterpieces like Four Allen Center (Lloyd, Morgan & Jones, 1984), which MoMA curator Arthur Drexler praised as “absolutely staggering” in its mirrored-glass effects. Houston’s later corporate development encapsulated its seamless, stylistic transition to postmodernism in buildings often designed by the same architects, like Johnson/Burgee’s RepublicBank Center of 1984, just across the street from Pennzoil Place. Houston’s theorizations provided valuable frameworks for understanding these economic and aesthetic cycles together, from the city’s boom to the period that Joel Warren Barna called the “see-through years” in homage to the hollow, abandoned development projects that littered the city’s landscape in the 1980s, begun a decade too late. 4 Houston has emerged as ground zero for what architecture and the city have become—for good or evil—in the midst of our national politics. The genuine multiculturalism of the country’s fourth-largest city—its greatest resource—offers conflicting signals with regard to architecture’s complicity with, or resistance to, the rise of xenophobia, racism, and nationalism in the U.S. This year provided welcome news of an international competition to design the country’s first official Ismaili Center, sponsored by the Aga Khan, with the hope of producing a distinguished building worthy of serving the nation’s largest community of Ismaili Muslims. Emancipation Park, established in 1872 as the first municipal park for African Americans in a segregated Houston—but long fallen into disrepair since the 1970s amid the decline of the historically underserved Third Ward—reopened last year to much fanfare following an extensive program of renovation and new construction by a team of designers led by Phil Freelon. Such initiatives are tempered by the news that Southwest Key Programs, a Texas nonprofit, plans to repurpose a warehouse near Houston’s downtown—which previously housed families displaced by Harvey—as a detention center for “tender age” immigrant children under the age of 12 who were forcibly separated from their parents by ICE. Meanwhile, the first federal contract for an immigrant detention center under the Trump administration was awarded in April 2017 to GEO Group, a private prison company, to build a $110 million, 1,000-bed facility in Conroe, a city just north of Houston. Such cruelties underscore the presence of the vast prison-industrial complex that underlies much of the financial landscape of the city’s politics, in parallel with the multinational conglomerates centered here—such as Halliburton—that have tied the city’s petrochemical industries to the construction of military detention facilities abroad. 5 What lessons can we learn from Houston today, from its dissonant combination of the hopeful and the horrifying amidst the city’s current urban transformations? How can new thinking emerge from the multiculturalism of an expanding city? Perhaps Houston’s lateness can be redeployed in its favor: While it may be behind the beat in offering responses to climate change, urban development, and cultural conflict, Houston’s apparent condition of being out-of-time can be reclaimed as a mode of resistance, a slowness in relation to contemporary politics. In this context, what can we do differently, and what must we think anew? For one, future criticism and speculation on the city will have to become more intersectional, no longer centered around a dominant—white, male—set of voices. (Look again at the list of authors on the previous page.) New ideas will have to come from beyond the domain of the academy, from the full spectrum of actors, interests, and constituencies that together represent Houston’s enviable diversity. The way forward might be indicated by the remarkable success of Project Row Houses, established in 1994 by artist Rick Lowe as a residency program for artists, architects, and writers—primarily women and people of color—to create and exhibit work in a series of restored shotgun houses in the Third Ward. The project’s model, based on a commitment to public art and an alternative model of community development—one that includes dedicated residences for young, single mothers—offers a true praxis for how cultural identity and community work can intersect in rethinking and remaking the city. Another lesson in joint urban practice can be found in the recently announced initiative by the University of Houston and the International Center for the Arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to create a partnership focused on Latino and Latin American art and culture. In seeking to connect students to the culture and heritage of Latino communities that make up some 43 percent of the urban population, this initiative suggests how architecture and design can respond more fully to a deeply multicultural city. Such examples offer the hope of a new Houston urbanism to come, one that expands the range of those who can participate in interpreting its transformations and reclaiming its prior theorizations toward new, untimely, and more humane futures.
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Tried All the Angles

Judge clears way for controversial Brooklyn development at Broadway Triangle
Last Friday in New York City, a lawsuit against one of North Brooklyn’s most contentious, high-profile developments was dismissed after a six-month delay in court. The lawsuit, filed by the Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH) and local groups in February, claimed the Broadway Triangle project would discriminate against people of color and further segregate the predominantly black and Latino community from the rest of Brooklyn. Currently a vacant piece of land situated at the corner of Union and Flushing Avenues, the contested site is slated to become a massive eight-building, mixed-use complex. It was formerly owned by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. In their complaint, the plaintiffs said the development violates the federal Fair Housing Act and asked the city to stop the rezoning of the site. They also urged the city to consider requiring racial impact studies when rezoning areas in low-income communities throughout New York. Alexandra Fennell, network director at Churches United, told The Architect’s Newspaper that such a study could easily be incorporated into the Environmental Review process when properties are up for development. “The land use process provides opportunities for tangible remedies for issues that are present,” she said. “If the city refuses to even study segregation in our neighborhoods then we are almost certain to perpetuate it.” The plaintiffs also noted that the Pfizer site’s current developer, Rabsky Group, has a longstanding history of building luxury homes and apartments exclusively for larger Hasidic families with three- and four-bedroom options. They argued these sizes don't make sense for smaller black and Latino families who might be interested in applying for the 287 affordable housing units being offered at the Pfizer Project.  The planned 1,146-apartment complex will include those subsidized units, 65,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, and green space, designed in conjunction with the NYC Department of Planning and Manhattan-based firm Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP). According to the architects, the new design will aim to improve the local pedestrian experience on the southwest corner of the 31-acre Broadway Triangle, boost economic activity in the area, and beautify the surrounding neighborhoods of South Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Bedford-Stuyvesant.  Magnus Magnusson, the firm's principal, said since the first goal of the project was to receive the zoning change, the initial drawings specifically show the urban design approach taken to the site. You can’t tell from the images, he said, but going east the scale of the buildings get lower to match the surrounding neighborhood. The tallest structures on Union Avenue—a busy, car-ridden street—feature up to 18 stories. “Another big urban design feature we added was a large, public open space in the middle of the complex,” Magnusson said. “The neighborhood today lacks green space and we wanted to make it a place for the entire community to come together.” Magnusson also noted that there hasn’t been any talk of a luxury development by Rabsky so far. “There are seven apartment buildings ranging in various sizes, so each one could be for a different use and feature either affordable housing versus market rate,” he said. “The attraction here for us was the fact that for decades, this was an empty property. To build a new mixed community is really what New York is all about in trying to do to make the city more inclusive. Even though the opposition wanted more, this will probably be the best compromise." Broadway Triangle has been a public topic of controversy for nearly a decade. The city voted to rezone the area, which it owns, in 2009 to make way for new development and affordable housing options, but a federal judge blocked such actions three years later, citing that it would be detrimental to the local minority populations. After the city agreed to find a new developer for the site last year, plans restarted. In March the court put a temporary restraining order on the site, but the ban was lifted with the final ruling last week. “The city needs more housing...a lot more,” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron wrote in his ruling. “The Pfizer Project has already passed political process muster; today it passes judicial process muster. This court finds no legal impediment to it and will not stand in its way one more day.” Judge Engoron also stated that the city has no obligation to carry out a racial impact study when it considers rezoning properties and noted that concerns of gentrification and displacement speak to broad social trends rather than the hidden agenda of developers. For the past month, Churches United has hosted the “Take Back Bushwick” campaign, a series of 17 “actions” or events calling out future local market rate developments that are driving up rents, displacing residents in Brooklyn, and have zero affordable housing options. The last and final action, a rally against an incoming 27-story residential building on Wyckoff Avenue, was held this morning. Fennell calls this particular project the “ultimate middle finger building” in Bushwick and a development that “could not be farther from what the community needs.” “Today’s action was not related to Pfizer but it also focuses on the city’s failure to create policies that encourage development of low income housing which we desperately need in favor of luxury development,” she said. “New York is one of the most segregated cities in the country and this type of development is only segregating us further.” Council member Antonio Reynoso, who represents District 34 where the Pfizer Project will be developed, also spoke at the rally and urged the local community to continue getting involved in these discussions. “Bushwick looks a certain way, it has a character,” he said “That’s what makes it so popular and that’s what's being taken away from us. We’re allowing developers and big money to dictate and determine exactly what they want to do in this community, instead of allowing the community to be the sayers of how we want things to be.” This article was updated on August 2nd with comments from Magnusson Architecture and Planning.