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Langdon Local Historic District

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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Ducatista » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:06 am

ArturoBandini wrote:I am bothered by this attitude (a sentiment which I recognize means nothing to anyone other than myself). Your "method" seems totally devoid of principle - each decision is made on an ad hoc basis. Or where there are principles at stake, the default position is that they can be re-evaluated and exceptions made based on your interpretation of the circumstances. Your neighborhood note-taking tour sounds to me like you'd be walking around filling out a checklist comprised of two columns, "Acceptable" vs. "Tacky". What do you do when your tastes are fundamentally incompatible with another busybody neighbor, and both opinions conflict with those of the owner of the property in question? I gather that you'll claim that some compromise can be made, but I don't understand why the mere opinion of a neighbor has a seat at the bargaining table to begin with.

Stu - what determines when two or more objects are "visually compatible"? To what degree is this an objective criterion versus one dependent on the subjective tastes of those reviewing each case? Additionally, how do you determine if the "rhythm" of one section of architecture is sufficiently compatible with the next?

Easy there, cowboy. I don't have a "method," so back off with your devoid-of-principle sniff.

snoqueen asked "how you'd like the area to turn out in ten or twenty years," which I took to be a question of preference, not of how things should be done. Then she said she'd hoped for specifics, like heights and percentages. Even in a personal-preference exercise, there's no way I could cough up numbers without sizing up the current lay of the land. Get what I'm saying? I've lived in the shadow of a tall building for a dozen years, and I can't tell you how many stories it is. That's what my note-taking tour would be about. What's the current scale? What's the topography? "Acceptable vs. tacky" is your flight of fancy, please leave me out of it.

And for a little context: not only do I live in the shadow of a tall building, I live across from several big multi-flat houses in varying states of dumpiness. And I love it, so much that I plunked down a big wad of cash for the privilege of living here as long as I like.

I'm going to restate this just in case you're still thinking I have some neighborhood-by-consensus idea: What I'd like to see happen and what I think should be imposed on property owners are two entirely different things. If I could pick, faux victorian would be a capital offense, and leaving your window blinds hanging at different heights would result in forfeiture of deed. But I don't get to pick, nor do I want to.

However, I do think civic assets like historic districts and Capitol sightlines are worth protecting, even at the expense of complete property owner discretion. Edgewater and Iota Court are the better for the approval-process tussle, and I think downtown deserves that restraint.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Ducatista » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:47 am

snoqueen wrote:Evidently the idea you prefer is not to have a lot of rules because they stifle development. (Again, I don't mean to say that wrong and I don't know if I'm even close. I have no reason to misrepresent what you want. I honestly am still not sure what it is, and you're declining to explain how you'd like Langdon to turn out so I've got little to go on. I'm relying on Artie's translation here as much as anything else.)

Artie's translation is less accurate than Google's, so please don't rely on that.

In the other Iota Court thread I talked about what I'd like to see in the neighborhood. But that was from the lake side and pretty vague, so I'll have another go.

I'd like to see a mix of heights and densities, more density than is there now. I think parts of the sloping shore could comfortably accommodate a fair bit of height, maybe taller than 8 stories. But as I've said, there's no way I could offer up numbers without a more considered look at the existing scale.

I'd also like to see a mix of styles (as there already is). A few tasteful modernists might help ameliorate the effect of shitty white columns.

I think public lake views, like the end of Wisconsin Ave, are worth protecting. But I don't think private lake views deserve protection. Want a guaranteed lake view from your bedroom window? Buy a lake house. (Sorry.)

There are some landmark buildings in the Langdon area that deserve a visual buffer. How to calculate that buffer, again, I don't know. And I'd want to see a bubble map of the area with buffers in place. If the buffers would squash development, then I wouldn't consider them viable.

Is that more of what you were hoping for? The lack of specifics will have to stand, I'm afraid. I don't know enough about urban planning to have a feel for when restrictions cross the line into growth killers... but I do know there's a line, and I'd like to skate as close as possible to that line, erring on the side of aesthetics over economics because, hey, I live here. If I were to learn that it's essential to stay on the development side of the line to prevent decay, then that's where I'd be, but again, as close to the line as possible.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Cooltapes » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:39 pm

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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby snoqueen » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:21 pm

Thanks, ducatista. I now have a better understanding of what you think should happen along Langdon.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Stu Levitan » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:55 am

Mike Ivey's take.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:04 am

Stu Levitan wrote:Mike Ivey's take.


His take? It was a rehashing of everything I've already read. He gave no opinion or further discussion.

A question for you Stu. There was mention of affordable housing in this debate. From your experience, do you think designating an area a historic district, makes it more expensive to live there? It seems as though having strict restrictions to fix up your property makes it more expensive to maintain therefor raising rents. Maybe I'm off base.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby snoqueen » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:25 am

His take? It was a rehashing of everything I've already read. He gave no opinion or further discussion.


It wasn't an opinion/editorial column, it was a report which included an update on the effort to establish a historic district and the reaction of developers.

Regarding historic districts and affordable housing:

http://www.cityofmadison.com/planning/l ... kHist.html

That'll take you to a list and short descriptions of Madison's five historic districts. I think the affordability effects of historic designation are a mix, largely because they take so many years to show up.

You'll see none of them are uniformly cheap areas to live in. The Marquette Bungalows routinely sell for close to half a mil. The whole reason behind a historic district is to preserve the best of the past, and unfortunately that tends to be the costlier and better-constructed buildings (with some exceptions).

Would an area be cheaper to live in if it weren't a historic district? To determine that you'd have to find comparables among other similar neighborhoods and see whether prices (or rents) are different. The problem with this is a historic district is, almost by definition, unique. That's why the people tried to preserve it in the first place.

Without hard evidence, though, I think we could say the Marquette Bungalows wouldn't be as costly as they are without the historic designation. In that case, it assures buyers that those few little blocks will remain intact, so there's a commitment not only to individual homes but also to the whole. I think the results show how that encourages historically-appropriate improvements and good maintenance.

University Heights was never cheap. The houses are big and some are by name-recognized architects. If historic designation keeps them from being chopped up into grad-student apartments, so do other market forces. UH is not a premier affordable-housing district.

Third Lake Ridge is diverse, but I think part of the reason it's not as damaged as the Johnson-Gorham corridor (which is the same age and has similar housing stock) is its historic designation. Some housing in J-G might be cheaper, but definitely not all of it.

Mansion Hill was already partly student housing when it was designated, and that hasn't changed. I can't guess whether the designation changed housing affordability or not, let alone in which direction. Maybe someone else has an opinion on that one.

First Settlement is a mixed bag and a work-in-progress. It was already pretty well chopped up when it was designated, and because its the most recently designated district (2002) perhaps the results aren't completely visible yet.

The most affordable housing is not built to be the most affordable. Usually, new housing at a level just above most-affordable is built, people move there, and the places they left -- the cheapest housing of all at that time -- then opens up.

In general, you can't build (or remodel) something that cheap -- not without subsidy, anyway. The lowest tier is nearly always "used," if not used-up, and it'll probably be the next to go when another round of building starts. This is not an excuse for letting it decay and be unsafe. It's not even the best way. It's just how things work at this time.
Last edited by snoqueen on Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:34 am

snoqueen wrote:
His take? It was a rehashing of everything I've already read. He gave no opinion or further discussion.


It wasn't an opinion/editorial column, it was a report which included an update on the effort to establish a historic district and the reaction of developers.


I realize that, but Stu said it was "his take" Ivey is no stranger to giving his opinion and "take" when he writes a news story.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Ducatista » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:40 pm

snoqueen wrote:Regarding historic districts and affordable housing:

http://www.cityofmadison.com/planning/l ... kHist.html

That'll take you to a list and short descriptions of Madison's five historic districts.

Great link. I didn't know my neighborhood was quite that big... turns out I've lived in the Mansion Hill Historic District for 17 of my 28 years in Madison, the first 5 and the past 12.

For five of the rest we lived in Third Lake Ridge. Or, as we like to call it, the suburbs.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby lucypevensie » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:05 pm

I realize the discussion has moved on, but I just want to point out that the house in the petition link is the Kappa Alpha Theta house and does, in fact, still exist. I thought it was kind of funny that a poster said that "Langdon will never look like that again" since, well, the current-day Theta house looks almost exactly the same. Okay, we're missing a few of those old-growth trees, and some of the lovely view is obstructed by (ahem) that high-rise apartment in the background, but otherwise it's basically the same as in that photograph.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:08 am

I see local business groups are pouring money into aldermanic races to defeat candidates who are strong on historical preservation or who want to keep height restrictions on new construction.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby SlayerDave » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:44 am

Good. The rent is still too damn high.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Cooltapes » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:55 am

They also support Roggensack.

Anyone seriously believe rent on the Waterfront will be less than for what's there now? This is not low income housing, never was intended to be, and was acknowledged as market value by our alder at the neighborhood meeting last fall. The same alder said everyone should be able to live downtown, and who could be succeeded by someone with the same so-called "progressive" "smart growth" values which will favor (non-community based) rampant development and "build baby build." It's an abuse of the term "progressive" which began with people like Mayor Dave and Tommy Thompson. I heard recently from someone who lives in the Batchelor Apartments that they're going to do room inspections and claim damage deposits from tenants right before knocking the buildings down. It's all about $$$$.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Cooltapes » Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:19 am

ArturoBandini wrote:
Zoti Bemba wrote:
If you are not the owner of said property, what authority do you have to determine the economic fate of the property?
I believe that is the question being debated.
If you claim that the answer to the question is anything other than "none", then you've turned the concept of property rights on its head.

Imagine the converse situation - what if your plans (ostensibly, to remain in your Langdon street home) were permitted to be threatened by people who own no part of your home or property? They have other plans for your property, and they petition the government to force you to play along as they enact their plans. (OK, this situation already happens, it's called eminent domain). How is this different than what you're trying to do to the property owners who want to sell their properties to developers?


The home I live in is in that situation, of government seizure on 3 sides of the property (it's the government, not anyone petitioning the government.) It seems hypocritical to me that I should apparently have no say over my own property rights and live with the continual threat of eminent domain from government, yet also have no (or, at least, very limited) say in what the decisions made by that government for the general public welfare (ie my neighborhood), even with direct and continual involvement at significant personal sacrifice, without personally running for some position in government. Yet, that is my situation.
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Re: Langdon Local Historic District

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:39 am

Cooltapes wrote:Anyone seriously believe rent on the Waterfront will be less than for what's there now?


Do you seriously believe that if your neighborhood were designated a historic district, rents would stay the same? I believe that all property values would increase amounting to steeper rents for everyone, not just those in new buildings going up.

I'd be curious to know if there is a city in America where the downtown rents are reasonable.
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