Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

In an article dated August 6 in the Charlotte Observer Charlotte wrestles with preservation issues in the older neighborhoods.

The names change, the story is the same.

Old neighborhood, long term residents, new interest in the the land because if its charm and location. Homes that are much larger than the original neighborhood plan are built, they change the character of the neighborhood and affect the neighbors property. Some residents get concerned that they could lose this historic neighborhood to this redevelopment boom. Start looking at options. Other people get excited and invest in a rising market. Old settled neighborhood begins to look a bit unsettled.

As the Observer stated it:

Today Americans seek more space than their parents. In new developments bigger homes can be built without hindrances.

But the desire for more space creates a tension in some older neighborhoods, built for the needs of the past. Neighbors there find themselves walking a line between preserving the past and maintaining property rights, promoting growth yet controlling how it takes shape.

Preserving character

Big renovations or teardowns can remove trees as homes take up bigger footprints on their lots. Taller houses can block sunshine or change the streetscape as they supersize. But homeowners have rights, too. And renovations can help boost a community's property values and may get rid of dilapidated buildings retrofitted with nonhistoric touches such as aluminum siding.

And some additional development in existing neighborhoods increases density, reducing the need for more new, sprawling subdivisions that claim undeveloped land on the edge of the city.

On both side of the issue, it creates strains on neighborhood relationships.

What to do?

... historic designations aren't enough. In Plaza-Midwood, the historic district covers a small area of the broader neighborhood, said resident Krista Murphy.

"People are buying the old, little bungalows and putting up these 3,800-square-foot homes that aren't in keeping with the neighborhood," Murphy said. "A lot of us moved here because of the character of the neighborhood, and a lot of the character is being torn down."

So in Charlotte, a new idea surfaced. A community center was the site for a neighborhood association meeting which featured education and information. Tim Griffin, president of the association, invited architects, builders, bankers and other professionals to demonstrate how to renovate and maintain the feeling of the neighborhood. His idea is to inspire. "I'm just so adamant about no more McMansions," he said. "We're not a homeowners' association. We're not a historic district. So the next best thing is to educate."

According to the article, "residents from older communities around uptown have joined forces as Save Our Older Neighborhoods to share ideas on how to preserve their feel and character." I like their acronym.

No comments: