Posts tagged with "rust belt":

Placeholder Alt Text

Crumbling temples, South Side landmarks, neon signs top list of Chicago’s “most threatened” buildings

Preservation Chicago Wednesday named the seven Chicago structures on their annual list of the city's most threatened historic buildings, calling attention to vacant or blighted buildings from Englewood to Uptown that include a crumbling masonic temple, defunct factories, and even a South Side city landmark. 1. South Side Masonic Temple, 6400 S. Green Street

Architect Clarence Hatzfield's 1921 temple was built in a very different Englewood than today's. At the time, the South Side neighborhood was home to the second busiest commercial corridor in the city after downtown. Vacant for decades, the classically detailed building has an outstanding demolition permit.

“It's a prominent and vibrant structure that really deserves a reuse plan,” said Preservation Chicago's Ward Miller. The building made their list in 2004, as well as similar watch lists from sister organization Landmarks Illinois in 2003–2004 and 2009–2010. “We really think this is the last call for the Masonic temple,” Miller said. 2. Main Building, 3300 S. Federal St. This vacant, red brick structure is visible from the Dan Ryan Expressway, its 1890s splendor a unique presence on the mostly modernist campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. IIT, which owns the Chicago landmark, has not been an absent landlord, however, renovating its interior over the years and recently putting out a request for proposals on the Romanesque revival structure. Nonetheless structural issues threaten this Patten & Fisher building that predates the 1893 Columbian Exposition. 3. A. Finkl & Sons Company Buildings, Kingsbury & The North Branch of the Chicago River Comprising 28 acres of land along the north branch of the Chicago River, this defunct industrial complex has an uncertain future. Once a symbol of Chicago's industrial might, this former manufacturing corridor churned out leather and forged steel. Now it's flanked with wealthy residential communities, its original industrial tenants gone for greener pastures. In 2014 Finkl & Sons moved their operations to Chicago's southeast side, provoking questions about the site's future that Robin Amer explored in detail for the magazine Rust Belt. 4. Agudas Achim North Shore Synagogue, 5029 N. Kenmore Ave. An historic synagogue on a residential block in Uptown, Agudas Achim boasts an unusual blend of architectural styles, mixing Spanish and Romanesque revival flourishes with Art Deco detailing. Brilliant stained glass windows and strange details in the 1922 building's 2,200-seat sanctuary shine through the building's dilapidation, which is substantial after years of vacancy. 5. Clarendon Park Community Center, 4501 N. Clarendon St.

The Clarendon Park Community Center and Field House, originally called the Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach, is now a community center and field house. When it was built in 1916, its Mediterranean-revival, resort-style design was meant to remind Chicagoans of Lake Michigan's splendor. That meant it was also supposed to erase memories of cholera outbreaks and squalor along the shores of a rapidly industrializing, young city.

Changes to the structure, particularly in 1972, led to water infiltration and roof issues, as well as alterations to the building's historic towers and colonnades. It sits in a tax-increment financing district adjacent to another threatened building, the historic Cuneo Hospital. Miller suggested the two could be saved and redeveloped together.

6. Pioneer Arcade & New Apollo Theater, 1535-1541 N. Pulaski Rd.

Another former commercial corridor that has fallen on tough times, the area around North & Pulaski in West Humboldt Park retains several important works of 1920s architecture that include some of the city's best Spanish Colonial Revival design.

Restoring the commercial structures to their former glory may prove challenging, but Preservation Chicago hopes previous attempts to redevelop individual buildings could coalesce into a larger restoration project using national and local historic rehabilitation tax incentives.

7. Neon signs

Not a building but an essential part of the city's built environment, Chicago's de facto public art gallery of neon signs overhanging public streets is under threat. Donald Trump's sign notwithstanding, many of the commercial advertisements on Chicago streets are beloved local icons. Many are also code violations in waiting, so the challenge is to find and fix up historic signs while scrapping rusted-out, replaceable ones. DNAinfo Chicago collected a few of their readers' favorite neon signs, which you can see here.

Visit Curbed Chicago for a map of city showing all seven buildings. More information on the list can be found on Preservation Chicago's website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Long-vacant grain silos in Chicago up for auction, future uncertain

One of Chicago's most visible rust-belt remnants is up for sale, just in time for its cameo in the Transformers 4 movie. The derelict Santa Fe grain elevator has been a favorite hangout for squatters, graffiti artists and ruin-porn enthusiasts since 1977, when a fire and explosion ended 70 years of industrial history there. Crain's reports the state of Illinois is going to sell the riverside collection of concrete silos at 2900 South Damen Avenue in an online auction beginning November 2. Seven years after a previous attempt to sell the abandoned property for $17.3 million, Rick Levin & Associates (acting on behalf of the state Department of Central Management Services) has dropped the minimum ask to $3.8 million. The long-defunct monolith has become one of Chicago's unsung landmarks—a particularly visible beacon of industrial grit in an area of the southwest side with no shortage of such relics. Lynn Becker has a thoughtful analysis of the property's significance on Architecture Chicago Plus, and in 2010 David Witter wrote a modern history of Chicago's grain elevator for NewCity. As anyone who has read William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis knows, Chicago's explosive growth in the late 19th century is due as much to its grain elevators as to its famous railroads and stockyards. It's likely this particular link to Chicago's industrial heyday will be razed if it finds a new buyer, but given residential and retail development has picked up in the nearby neighborhoods of Bridgeport and Pilsen, it's possible other uses could be considered. Its position along the Sanitary and Ship Canal, which connects to the Chicago River, may prove a valuable selling point—and not just as a means to convey grain in and municipal waste out.
Placeholder Alt Text

Louisville Looks to Fill Vacant Lots With Design Competition

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer started 2014 off with a call to citizens: Help the city come up with creative ideas to redevelop vacant land. Local and far-flung designers are invited to re-imagine the land in a new competition. The winners of the Lots of Possibility competition will be awarded a total of $38,000 to put their vision into action. That money comes from local grant funding. A jury will choose six finalists in each of the competition’s two categories: residential or commercial use; and proposals involving temporary or interim use of vacant lots. Up to two winners will get $15,000 for long-term residential or commercial development, while up to two more could receive a one-year land lease and $4,000 to implement temporary ideas. “The rules for this competition are simple—be creative and be bold,” Fischer said in a press release. Louisville recently launched its VAPStat  (Vacant and Abandoned Property Statistics) program to share public information about abandoned properties, foreclosure and redevelopment opportunities. There are more than 6,000 vacant lots in the area, with a high concentration in western Louisville. A 2013 study estimated about half of the approximately 6,000 vacant properties would “be remedied through normal market forces.” The  Louisville/Jefferson County Landbank Authority and the Urban Renewal Commission own many more sites that they’re working to redevelop. More than 250 lots (list) have been made available for the Lots of Possibility competition. “[T]he faster the number of VAP properties are reduced,” reads the VAPStat study, “the sooner they become revenue-producing real estate and the sooner they start to have positive effects on their surrounding neighborhoods.” Sponsoring the competition are the Department of Community Services and Revitalization, Vision Louisville and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, funded in part by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The competition page lists as inspiration St. Louis' Sustainable Land Lab, Youngstown, Ohio's Lots of Green program, and Flint, Michigan's Flatlot competition. Entries are due Feb. 24. The winners will be announced in April. Entry information here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Pittsburgh’s New Mayor to “Focus On Underserved Neighborhoods”

Pittsburgh’s new mayor took office this week, and with him comes a cabinet division dedicated to neighborhood development. The Steel City has largely scrubbed its image as an ailing post-industrial town in recent years, drawing in new artists and young professionals, but the revival has not touched all parts of the city equally. Some urbanists have pinned their hopes of remedying that on incoming Mayor Bill Peduto. During his victory speech on November 5, Peduto contrasted himself with his predecessor, Luke Ravenstahl, who saw “Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance” in large developments like stadiums and convention centers. "Tonight, we end the era of renaissance. There is not going to be a Renaissance Four," he said that night. "It's about building within, rebuilding the neighborhoods." He tapped Valerie McDonald-Roberts to serve as the Chief of Urban Affairs, who will work with the city’s expanded planning department, non-profits and others to oversee the city’s housing initiatives, “with a particular focus on underserved neighborhoods,” according to her profile on the city's website. Kevin Acklin, the mayor’s chief of staff, will also oversee development and city infrastructure as Pittsburgh’s chief development officer. Peduto has also advocated improving bike infrastructure. Whether Peduto can realize his vision for a more equal Pittsburgh, with economic development beyond its resurgent downtown, remains to be seen. As the Post-Gazette reported, Peduto faces a capital budget largely depleted by his predecessor:
Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle believes working within the city's financial constraints will be the biggest obstacle to Mr. Peduto implementing his vision. "It's one thing to be visionary, [but] once you've sort of hit the ground you've got to govern," he said. "You've got to make the hard choices."
Placeholder Alt Text

“City Works” envisions Chicago’s “dreams and nightmares”

From the abandoned foundations of the ill-fated Chicago Spire to the ghosts of would-be Tribune Towers galore, Chicago’s unbuilt legacy could rival the iconic skyline it actually achieved. An exhibition on display downtown, dubbed City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, confronts the city with its alternative skyline in the form of a panoramic wall design and a “Phantom Chicago” iPhone app. The overall effect evokes “a dream but also a nightmare,” in the words of curator Alexander Eisenschmidt. It also presents “a series of urban environments that are typical for Chicago,” meditating through the work of four prominent local designers on some of the city’s contemporary challenges: waterways, industry, shelter, and vacancy. To borrow Eisenschmidt’s metaphor, the aim is to turn potential nightmares into visionary dreams. Studio Gang’s work on urban waterways is well-known and their work here, titled “Reclaiming the Edge,” reprises the vision they laid out in Reverse Effect and other publications: a riverfront community and restored natural habitat nourish each other in a kind of urban symbiosis. After years of legal wrangling, Chicago’s Water Reclamation District will soon disinfect the wastewater it dumps back into the river, signaling some substantive progress on water quality. Meanwhile the Chicago Riverwalk grows along the waterway's main branch. UrbanLab / Sarah Dunn & Martin Felsen present “Free Water District,” a vision that also draws on Chicago’s aquatic resources. Rust Belt cities share many challenges stemming from deindustrialization, but they also share a common asset: water. UrbanLab’s piece envisions a Great Lakes region revitalized by water-focused industries, in a “megastructure-scaled public/private land/water partnership.” Stanley Tigerman offers a rumination on shelter in both the spatial and spiritual sense with “Displacement of the Gridiron with the Cloister.” His target is the “ineffable in architecture,” which is philosophical enough to mean many things to many people who might have very different ideas of the city’s urban aspirations. “The Available City” by David Brown displays a similar yearning, manifesting the city’s 15,000 city-owned vacant lots as blots of color bubbling up amid fractured neighborhoods. The bright colors, which appear to denote potential programs for unused space, could mean anything — adaptive reuse, public space, space-age capsule hotel — but the important thing is they reanimate dead spaces that total an area twice the size of the Loop. All four panoramas will eventually connect, sharing continuous topographic or development features. But until the closing days of the show they remain separate, traveling slowly along dotted lines that traverse the small exhibition space. “By pulling them apart,” Eisenschmidt said, “there’s a little suspense.” City Works, adapted from the 2013 Biennale in Venice, returned to its city of origin May 24. And these “provocations” are not Eisenschmidt’s first. In 2011 the University of Illinois at Chicago professor’s Visionary Chicago (reviewed here for A|N by Philip Berger) stirred conversation about bold building while the real estate market languished. The free show is open at Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph St., seven days per week through September 29. Listen to a conference on the topic, held September 22, 2012 and recorded by WBEZ. Watch 50 meters of the "Phantom Chicago" wall panorama scroll by:
Placeholder Alt Text

Coming Soon To Vacant Lots in St. Louis: Chess, Farming, Sunflower Rehab

The winners of St. Louis’ first-ever “Sustainable Land Lab” competition, put on by Washington University and city officials, attempted to make the most of a regrettably abundant resource: vacant lots. Local architects took top honors in a competition that garnered some four dozen submissions. Each winner gets a two-year lease on a North St. Louis vacant lot and $5,000 in seed money to realize their ideas. Five winning projects will share four lots (two finalist teams combined their proposals into one new plan) across the city. 1. Bistro Box  / Renewing Roots Urban Farm (now called Our Farm) — Repurposed shipping containers comprise a small, unpretentious restaurant attached to an urban farm. 2. Chess Pocket Park — Just what it sounds like.  A small park meant to build community around outdoor chess tables. 3. Mighty Mississippians — A "modern agricultural model" would combine farming, recreation and environmental remediation in a permacultural park. 4.Sunflower+ Project — A test plot for environmental remediation via sunflower and winter wheat farming. The plants will be encouraged through electroculture, an experimental farming technique that uses electricity to encourage plant growth. St. Louis, like many cities pock-marked with vacant land, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year just mowing vacant parcels. The land lab competition follows other innovative design competitions, like Flint, Michigan's Flat Lot and the Cleveland Design Competition, that encourage adaptive reuse and creative public projects throughout the Midwest. A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for April 27.
Placeholder Alt Text

Cleaning up an Arts District in Cincinnati

In its ongoing march to reclaim downtown neighborhoods marred by blight and suburban exodus, Cincinnati this week added Pendleton to the Neighborhood Enhancement Program. The district is known for its art center, and was a natural choice for the program now in 14 areas of the city. Like its neighbor to the west, Over-the-Rhine, Pendleton has struggled with crime. The “90-day blitz of city services” offered by NEP is designed to begin the process of long-term revitalization for the neighborhood by addressing that issue. Kennedy Heights saw a 16 percent drop in crime after it embarked on NEP earlier this year. The program will be reevaluated every 90 days, and again six months after completion. Cincinnati hopes the neighborhood’s defining characteristics will be its long-term salvation: its art and its artists. The city will add historic arts district signage along a new “boulevard of art,” drawing at first on $10,000 in seed money from a bevy of corporate and community sponsors. If the atmosphere at Wednesday’s announcement was a prologue for what’s to come, the future looks bright—Pendleton Neighborhood Council President David White’s speech was delayed slightly for a dance party to Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Streets."
Placeholder Alt Text

Historic Tower in Downtown Cincinnati Gets New Life as Hotel

Seven years after the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation embarked on its resuscitation of downtown’s signature Fountain Square, a vacant 86-year-old tower one block away is getting a $27.3 million makeover. The former home of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the 14-story building will now house 12,000 square feet of street-level retail and a 238-room hotel. Once slated for condos, the limestone tower will instead be downtown’s fifth largest hotel, bringing the total number of rooms downtown to more than 3,000. Cincinnati’s finance committee approved $7 million in tax abatements over 12 years for the project. SREE Hotels will invest in the construction—its first in the Midwest—but may find another hotel chain to operate the business. The investment is part of a growing wave of renewal throughout Cincinnati’s urban core, driven by private interests, municipal support, and a resurgent interest in downtowns throughout the Midwest.
Placeholder Alt Text

Michigan Looks to Raze Derelict Homes in Detroit

Detroit Mayor David Bing is making good on his pledge to demolish 10,000 derelict buildings in the city by the end of his first term in 2013—his administration has already taken down 4,500 abandoned structures, with another 1,500 demolitions planned by the end of September. (Five more came down this morning, and Curbed Detroit was on the scene to document the demolition.) Now the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, is expected to announce state support to help raze more buildings in the name of public safety. With an initial focus on Detroit’s east, southwest, and northwest sides, the governor’s administration is currently identifying neighborhoods for a pilot program. The Michigan Land Bank, Detroit Public Schools, and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority are among the many agencies and private sector actors involved in the effort to reclaim Detroit's wealth of abandoned and unused land. Neighborhood stabilization and economic development have been at the core of many of Bing’s proposals as mayor. But with Wayne County facing a $155 million budget deficit, efforts to transform Detroit's well-documented decline will have to do more with less.