Sunday, August 21, 2005

Can You Please Spare Some Change

From an entry on Mayor Slay's Blog dated August 21, 2005-

For the last year, the City’s Cultural Resources Office has repeatedly blocked the demolition of two wooden buildings in the Hyde Park Local Historic District. The buildings, at 4242 and 4244 N 19th Street, belong to the LRA because they were abandoned by their owners years ago. No one has expressed the slightest interest in them since LRA acquired them. They are very small – one story, one bedroom. They lack basements.

They have, though, some history. They were, according to the CRO, built in 1894 and 1896, a time when frame houses were more common in Hyde Park and in other City nabes. But, most of the other wooden structures from the period have been lost due to the relatively fragile nature of their construction. These two, though, remain.

They are, undoubtedly, eyesores. They are full of termites, which they are spreading throughout the block. They attract vagrants and worse. Their condition adversely affects the well maintained properties on the block. Both the neighbors and the alderman want them demolished. They have asked the Preservation Board to allow that to happen.

Unless someone with a checkbook and a viable plan shows up before the meeting, I suspect that demos will be authorized.

The Preservation Board will meet tomorrow, August 22nd, at the SLDC, 1015 Locust. The meeting starts at 4 pm.

While I have never seen the structures in question (other than an aerial on the city website), I believe they are worth restoring, simply for their uniqueness, nevermind their historical value. They are different, and that is what I like about them. The houses are from a different era than almost everything else in the city. Most old houses in the city are of solid brick construction, these are frame construction. But I also think cleaning up the vacant lots that I saw in the aerial would have a biggere effect on the property values than demolishing 2 houses. Demolition isn't always the answer. Too bad I don't have the money to step up.

1 comment:

Michael Allen said...

Demolition without development of the vacant lots will just perpetuate the woes of Hyde Park. More empty land there will make it look even less inviting. It's a tough neighborhood that needs innovative strategies for revitalization. All I keep hearing about are demolition plans for Hyde Park, and Ald. Bosley and Mayor Slay are behind almost every one. I don't know how these leaders can look at the city, with its daring rehabbers working all over making the impossible possible (City Hospital and the Arcade Building have even been tackled!), and think that demolition will get anything done.