Boom Save The Parking Lots!
posted by December 22 at 11:15 AMon
When I was editing Erica’s excellent feature on the changes coming to Pike/Pine I asked her to give some context to one particular quote she had included. Someone was bitching about the building going up at Broadway & Pine. It was called out as an example of how developers are ruining our beloved ‘hood. My God, a Walgreens was going in. And, uh, dozens of units of affordable housing—including three-bedroom units, designed to be big enough for low-income families. How awful, so much worse than what was there before… which was what again?
A gas station.
There used to be a Texaco sitting on that corner—one the same block with a Chevron. I’ll be accused of being in the pocket of developers for saying this but, you know, I’ll take a drugstore—even a chain—and dozens of units of affordable housing over a gas station any day. The development at Broadway & Pine is a net gain for the neighborhood, unlike the development planned for current site of the Bus Stop, Cha-Cha, Manray, etc. That development represents a net loss—of affordable retail spaces and character. And as Erica pointed wrote, it’s a highly stupid move on the part of the developers. They can’t simultaneously sell condos by promoting their proximity to lively independent businesses while also tearing down the buildings that house their businesses (and refusing to build new retail spaces small enough to host small, indy businesses). Or they can—just not for long.
Anyway, on my way to work today I passed the building shown above—it’s at Harvard & John, behind the new U.S. Bank building. I’ve heard folks bitching about it too. Oh, look at those awful little balconies! (Erica, for one, really hates little balconies.) And look at that out-of-scale, out-of-place trellis! And the brick veneer slapped on the first two floors! Shit, there goes the neighborhood!
Yeah, it could be better designed. So could a lot of the housing around here—including buildings like this ugly piece of shit, which predate the condo boom by decades. But what was on this spot at Harvard & John before this building—apartments, not condos—came along and ruined the neighborhood?
A parking lot.
Surely this building—despite its manifest flaws—is preferable to a parking lot. I remember a time when city dwellers regarded parking lots as an affront to urban values, not something worth preserving or mourning. “Save the parking lots!”—or the Texacos—isn’t a rallying cry that will bring me to the barricades.