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Wealthy Street Needed Renovations

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"If they passed the town home project on Diamond...."

Let's just say that the townhome project on Diamond meets the infill standards of the HPC. In fact, I would say that it is probably the best infill project I have seen, at least in the last few years. It is far better than somebody trying to do beotchized traditionalism, which we are seeing way too much of right now. I am becoming sickened by all the "traditional" styled stuff that looks like it belongs in a suburban monoplex. It is spreading like a cancer throughout these neighborhoods.

As far as the rendering for Wealthy, it would appear that not only is the existing building being substantially altered - which is a definite no-no, but also that the houses behind it are being demolished. This application, if it were real, would most likely not be viewed favorably.

The Diamond Street townhouses and this building are evaluated with different standards, new buildings vs. existing resources.

I am not sure what you are talking about when you say beotchized traditionalism and traditional styled stuff that looks like it belongs in a suburban monoplex. Can you explain that to me? Or point out some examples. I would like to know what you mean.

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I was driving down Wealthy a couple of moments and thought about how cool the Baptist Church is on the corner of Wealthy / Eastern. It looks like it must have been a school at one time. This would make such a cool condo or apartment conversion.

Joe

The sanctuary of that church is impressive. Many years ago my organization held an event there. I agree that this would be an awesome building to do a conversion of some sort, but the sanctuary would have to be saved and it takes a lot of space, basically the entire core of the building.

What is the history of this building...what school was it?

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Here is a zoning map of the Uptown area. (PRD's not included)

Wealthy Street spans three historic districts: Wealthy Theatre, Cherry Hill, and Heritage Hill.

396100570_f5ac4c0a1b_b.jpg

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Wasn't the Church the birthplace of Cornerstone University, known as the Baptist Bible Institute?

Don't know but that would make sense considering the size and prominence of the sanctuary in the building.

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I think this would be an example of progress and historical preservation butting heads like two fighting bulls. On one hand, a historical district, like any community, needs to be able to accommodate growth and change in order to remain a thriving place to live, work, and play. But on the other hand the character of the district needs to be preserved for future generations. Both sides have valid points. Therefore, this leaves developers stuck between a rock an a hard place when they want to build something or renovate/alter an existing building in a historic district. If they choose to propose a modern looking structure or substantial alterations to an existing building, chances are a historic district's HPC reacts with disgust and sends the developer packing. But on the other hand, if the developer proposes something that would stand a good chance of appeasing an HPC, critics a plenty cites the developer's proposal as "beotchizing traditionalism". That in mind, it boils down to the following question. Is there a happy medium that will both fit into a historic district and accommodate growth and change that is necessary to any type of community's prosperity?

My personal thought is that there is no real happy medium that would satisfy both the ever present need for change and those that wish to preserve history. No matter if the need for change is accommodated in a sleek ultra modern building, a neo-traditional building, or even the gentlest and most discrete alteration made to an old staunchly traditional building, what ever is done will alter to a varying degree the character of any community, historic or not. Therefore, one cannot just demand that a historic district remain unchanged right down to the very last brick. Historic preservation is very important as buildings are physical manifestation of cultural heritage. But there needs to be some degree of wiggle room to allow even the most historic community to keep pace with changing times.

"If they passed the town home project on Diamond...."

Let's just say that the townhome project on Diamond meets the infill standards of the HPC. In fact, I would say that it is probably the best infill project I have seen, at least in the last few years. It is far better than somebody trying to do beotchized traditionalism, which we are seeing way too much of right now. I am becoming sickened by all the "traditional" styled stuff that looks like it belongs in a suburban monoplex. It is spreading like a cancer throughout these neighborhoods.

As far as the rendering for Wealthy, it would appear that not only is the existing building being substantially altered - which is a definite no-no, but also that the houses behind it are being demolished. This application, if it were real, would most likely not be viewed favorably.

The Diamond Street townhouses and this building are evaluated with different standards, new buildings vs. existing resources.

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My personal thought is that there is no real happy medium that would satisfy both the ever present need for change and those that wish to preserve history...Therefore, one cannot just demand that a historic district remain unchanged right down to the very last brick. Historic preservation is very important as buildings are physical manifestation of cultural heritage. But there needs to be some degree of wiggle room to allow even the most historic community to keep pace with changing times.

Very well spoken. Needless to say I very much agree. Unfortunately I have not seen any sign of wiggle room ever given by the Historic Preservation Comission in Grand Rapids, i.e. the way they have handled lead hazard remediation issues.

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I think this would be an example of progress and historical preservation butting heads like two fighting bulls. On one hand, a historical district, like any community, needs to be able to accommodate growth and change in order to remain a thriving place to live, work, and play. But on the other hand the character of the district needs to be preserved for future generations. Both sides have valid points. Therefore, this leaves developers stuck between a rock an a hard place when they want to build something or renovate/alter an existing building in a historic district. If they choose to propose a modern looking structure or substantial alterations to an existing building, chances are a historic district's HPC reacts with disgust and sends the developer packing. But on the other hand, if the developer proposes something that would stand a good chance of appeasing an HPC, critics a plenty cites the developer's proposal as "beotchizing traditionalism". That in mind, it boils down to the following question. Is there a happy medium that will both fit into a historic district and accommodate growth and change that is necessary to any type of community's prosperity?

My personal thought is that there is no real happy medium that would satisfy both the ever present need for change and those that wish to preserve history. No matter if the need for change is accommodated in a sleek ultra modern building, a neo-traditional building, or even the gentlest and most discrete alteration made to an old staunchly traditional building, what ever is done will alter to a varying degree the character of any community, historic or not. Therefore, one cannot just demand that a historic district remain unchanged right down to the very last brick. Historic preservation is very important as buildings are physical manifestation of cultural heritage. But there needs to be some degree of wiggle room to allow even the most historic community to keep pace with changing times.

What is an example? Your sketchup drawing? Fighting bulls? Rocks and hard places? It is very rare the moments when the HPC 'sends a developer packing' - you've been reading the Press editorials with too much reverence. And, do you really think the average developer cares about architectural criticism?

There are standards and a process to guiding a design through approvals at the HPC. When you do your research, respectfully work within the process, understand the concerns of the stakeholders, and present a coherent design - most times you are confirmed with approval. There are rules and they have to be followed. But, there is room for a modern solution within the confines of the Department of Interior Standards - every day...on every project.

With regards to Wealthy street, the primary reason that we're seeing some stagnation amogst the redevelopment success stories is the lack of demand - not historic preservation or the GRHPC for that matter.

It seems to me that you've just personally overracted to some possibly valid criticism of a pretend project by blaming preservation.

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I am not so sure about it not passing historic preservation...if they passed the town home project on Diamond they may pass something like this. I think it is really impressive.

We have been in regular conversation with the owners of this building trying to help them with the disposition of it. Can't say too much but let me say that in all my days of doing real estate development I have never seen a bigger legal nightmare in regard to who owns this land legally and rightfully. We continue to walk slowly with the owners to try and sort it out. But it is going to take time.

Maybe it would maybe it wouldn't.

Hey, why don't you tie up the property and run that design past the HPC! If they passed your project on Wealthy I'm sure they'll pass this one too!

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Maybe it would maybe it wouldn't.

Hey, why don't you tie up the property and run that design past the HPC! If they passed your project on Wealthy I'm sure they'll pass this one too!

Ted,

I hope you did not take offense to my comment stating, "If they passed the town home project on Diamond...." I love your project! I simply think that it is very different from anything currently in any Historic District thus proving the Commission's willingness to accept to approve cutting edge projects. I do agree with you and had not thought about the fact that there is a significant difference between existing buildings and in fill new construction. This would pose a significant barrier on the property Tamias did in sketch up.

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Ted,

I hope you did not take offense to my comment stating, "If they passed the town home project on Diamond...." I love your project! I simply think that it is very different from anything currently in any Historic District thus proving the Commission's willingness to accept to approve cutting edge projects. I do agree with you and had not thought about the fact that there is a significant difference between existing buildings and in fill new construction. This would pose a significant barrier on the property Tamias did in sketch up.

None taken, Dave. I'm glad you like my project, that's cool. Lots of people don't - that's cool too. Including some of the HPC members, but they voted to approve because it met the standards for infill development - just like yours did. There are dozens of different architectural styles represented in our historic districts with their only commonality being that most of them are more than 50 years old. I think it's important for us all to understand there are no absolute right or wrong stylistic answers.

I apologize to all, specifically Prankster and Dave, for my childish post.

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I love the Diamond project and hope there can be more like it in the city, including historic districts. I also like the idea of historic districts and preservation of the older styles. What I don't get is why a certain time period (from about 1860-1920) has be chosen to be the only time period that can have any significant architectural contribution. I must agree that some of the crap thrown up in the 1960s and 70s was designed based on only cost, but there can be examples found of good architecture from that period as well. I think the Diamond townhouse shows that modern architecture, when properly thought out, while decidedly different from 19th century can be equally contributing to the asthetics and integrity of a neighborhood. In fact, it shows vibrancy when there is new design right along side thriving old design. I for one would not want to live in a city in which it would feel and look like everything is a 100 years old. The key to vibrancy is diversity, not only in the people, but in the buildings.

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I am not sure what you are talking about when you say beotchized traditionalism and traditional styled stuff that looks like it belongs in a suburban monoplex. Can you explain that to me? Or point out some examples. I would like to know what you mean.

Example: Near the corner of Wealthy and Eureka, north side of Wealthy: Single family brick infill house, approved by the HPC, most likely met standards. Probably the worst recent example of "beotchized traditionalism". This house just doesn't look right and I would much rather see more contemporary architecture that follows basic urban tenants than this kind of stuff - and I consider myself to be biased more toward traditional forms.

My term "beotchized traditionalism" is the result of the designer not paying attention to details. If you are going to build a "colonial style" house, it is a good idea to not introduce tudor or craftsman windows, doors or details. Taking it in another direction, trying to build a Victorian house today, will most likely (90%+ of the time) result in disaster. The materials are not available, the craftsmanship is certainly not available and the level of sophistication amongst the design professionals is not there. So with that said, it is becoming evident that it is better to build something modern than something traditional, because it seems less likely that it will get screwed up.

Typological issues: What has been troubling lately is when someone builds rowhouses - more than two attached residential units - and they try to style them as a single family house. I do not believe that is the intent of the infill standards and more importantly I do not believe that mixing typologies is a good thing for urban fabric. A rowhouse is a rowhouse and in most cases the shear repetition of the form is part of the type, it should not be hidden with doo-dads that belong on a house, that is not what is meant by massing and composition.

This typological problem becomes evident in many suburban areas that have mixed up standards and mixed up planning officials and think that if they can make the burger king or a doctor's office look like a house, then their "rural character" will be preserved. Making everything look like a house is not the correct method. There will be more on this in coming weeks, with a few HPC applications - stay tuned.

As far as some good examples of infill - obviously the rowhouses on Diamond.

But also the Center of the Universe building, where I very much appreciate the treatment of the storefront.

The mixed use building near Hall and Madison is also a well done infill building. The townhouses here are OK, but would be far better if they were raised higher off the ground.

The Bazzani two-unit on James is pretty well done - but would be far less convincing if that design was forced to become a six-unit building, although I doubt they would have done that, so it doesn't matter. Conversley, Ted's townhouses would look great as a six-unit building.

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Example: Near the corner of Wealthy and Eureka, north side of Wealthy: Single family brick infill house, approved by the HPC, most likely met standards. Probably the worst recent example of "beotchized traditionalism". This house just doesn't look right and I would much rather see more contemporary architecture that follows basic urban tenants than this kind of stuff - and I consider myself to be biased more toward traditional forms.

My term "beotchized traditionalism" is the result of the designer not paying attention to details. If you are going to build a "colonial style" house, it is a good idea to not introduce tudor or craftsman windows, doors or details. Taking it in another direction, trying to build a Victorian house today, will most likely (90%+ of the time) result in disaster. The materials are not available, the craftsmanship is certainly not available and the level of sophistication amongst the design professionals is not there. So with that said, it is becoming evident that it is better to build something modern than something traditional, because it seems less likely that it will get screwed up.

Typological issues: What has been troubling lately is when someone builds rowhouses - more than two attached residential units - and they try to style them as a single family house. I do not believe that is the intent of the infill standards and more importantly I do not believe that mixing typologies is a good thing for urban fabric. A rowhouse is a rowhouse and in most cases the shear repetition of the form is part of the type, it should not be hidden with doo-dads that belong on a house, that is not what is meant by massing and composition.

This typological problem becomes evident in many suburban areas that have mixed up standards and mixed up planning officials and think that if they can make the burger king or a doctor's office look like a house, then their "rural character" will be preserved. Making everything look like a house is not the correct method. There will be more on this in coming weeks, with a few HPC applications - stay tuned.

As far as some good examples of infill - obviously the rowhouses on Diamond.

But also the Center of the Universe building, where I very much appreciate the treatment of the storefront.

The mixed use building near Hall and Madison is also a well done infill building. The townhouses here are OK, but would be far better if they were raised higher off the ground.

The Bazzani two-unit on James is pretty well done - but would be far less convincing if that design was forced to become a six-unit building, although I doubt they would have done that, so it doesn't matter. Conversley, Ted's townhouses would look great as a six-unit building.

Thanks for the clarification. I think I actually understand what you are talking about here.

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So here are my questions:

1. will places such as "Wild Bunch" ever get a makeover?

2. what kinds of businesses would work on welathy street?

a grocery store?

more restaurants?

things such as a kinkos, or tux shop?

what belongs and what will survive?

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So here are my questions:

1. will places such as "Wild Bunch" ever get a makeover?

2. what kinds of businesses would work on welathy street?

a grocery store?

more restaurants?

things such as a kinkos, or tux shop?

what belongs and what will survive?

In my opinion a decent place to eat dinner would do well. You would draw from downtown, EGR and the surrounding areas. I think the place on Cherry should also do very well providing they get their name out there properly (read: hire the right PR/marketing person).

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I have seen it with two in-town neighborhoods in Atlanta, when I lived there. A good restaurant opened in a relatively vacant retail area. The food was great, prices not too high. People flocked to the restaurant. Lines out the front door. The retail area was suddenly "hot" and galleries opened up, small shops and the whole neighborhood "turned", all from a good restaurant.

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In my opinion a decent place to eat dinner would do well. You would draw from downtown, EGR and the surrounding areas. I think the place on Cherry should also do very well providing they get their name out there properly (read: hire the right PR/marketing person).

Agreed. And for God's sake, don't use the brain trust that came up with the "keep it a secret" campaign.

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In my opinion a decent place to eat dinner would do well. You would draw from downtown, EGR and the surrounding areas. I think the place on Cherry should also do very well providing they get their name out there properly (read: hire the right PR/marketing person).

Good idea, A good unique restaurant might just be the tipping point to make the area take-off. This restaurant talk opens the memory door. There used to be good small German restaurant called the Bierstube right there next to the Wealthy Theater. It had great food and great ambiance, and if you went there a couple times the waitresses would remember you and what you ordered. You could park around the back and walk in the backdoor through a hallway by the kitchen and say hello to the owner or to whoever was cooking on your way in. But it closed maybe thirty years ago. I miss that place or maybe I just miss being thirty years younger.

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In my opinion a decent place to eat dinner would do well. You would draw from downtown, EGR and the surrounding areas. I think the place on Cherry should also do very well providing they get their name out there properly (read: hire the right PR/marketing person).

When I was in the UK this summer, we ate at a tapas restaurant but it wasnt expensive. I think that would be great. I know people like San Chez but only if they want to sell their firstborn for a meal. I love the idea of Tapas, but would love it even more if it were affordable.

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Last night HPC approved the roadwork (w/ round-abouts) on Wealthy between Lafayette and Division

roundabouts huh? anyone got any sketches?

p.s. where are those historical photos GRGridGirl?

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