All posts tagged: zoning

a visit to charleston, south carolina

Well, probably at least two lousy posts.  As you might have guessed, last month I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina.  It was four days of straight-up historic preservation and urban planning geekery, and I now have a final paper on historic districts and zoning and how the two struggle to manage growth in this historic city. What do I mean, you ask?  I’m so glad you did.  Charleston has the distinction of being the first city to pass a Historic District Ordinance, in 1931.  Faced with a crisis of historic building demolition in the wake of the Depression, and an economy destroyed by the Civil War, Charleston began to consider how they could preserve their precious historic resources and promote recovery at the same time.  Land-use Zoning was still a very new concept at this time, but Charleston went at it full-force, creating a Board of Architectural Review (BAR) to review changes to building facades in the designated historic district.  Since that time, the district has expanded, as has the power of the …

dudley square.

Okay, so I’m crawling out from the abyss that is graduate school project deadlines.  Expect me to be fully back in action soon, with some posts about my recent trip to Charleston, SC, some article reviews, and other thoughts on things city, history, and walking.  Today, though, I want to talk about Dudley Square, where I work at Haley House’s Take Back the Kitchen.  Dudley is an incredible historic neighborhood and is the heart and soul of Roxbury. Take the time to come visit Haley House Bakery Cafe, attend a tour with Discover Roxbury, and explore this dynamic community. There are several vacant parcels like these at the intersection of Melnea Cass Blvd. and Washington Streets.  The BRA is considering options for developing these parcels and holds regular community meetings to discuss the relationship between these projects and the Roxbury Master Plan.  The Plan is somewhat contentious because not all community members believe that this important citizen-led planning initiative has led to citizen-led decisionmaking.  Read more about the BRA in Roxbury and RMP Oversight Committee …

chinatown site.

This semester I’m part of a team in the FHL Boston Affordable Housing Development Competition. My team and I are working on a development proposal for a site in Chinatown, between Oxford Street and Ping-On Alley.  Ping-On Alley is where Chinatown was supposedly founded in the 1860s, as Chinese workers completed the Transcontinental Railway and settled in tents near Boston’s waterfront.  Half of the site has sandy ground beneath it, at the threshold of solid ground and the former beach that was filled in the late 19th century.  The site, taking up four lots, is half zoned in the Chinatown Historic District, which we are trying to honor in our design and planning.  We are really excited about our project, which will include a commemoration of the Ping-On Alley founding myth and a small corridor proposal for Oxford Street.  There is a fabulous pocket park a couple of doors down on Oxford that is under plans for redevelopment as a playground.  It’s a fantastic, urban site.  The developer who will be proposing this project in …

lexington community farm and the CPA

I had an exciting conversation yesterday while I was in Lexington picking up my last share from Shared Harvest CSA.  An exciting conversation about land use!  The town has recently acquired the former Busa Farm land and is now trying to decide how to redevelop it.  Since Lexington purchased the land with funds collected through the  Community Preservation Act, the site will remain mostly open space.  There will likely also be some affordable housing included in the plan.  The town-wide debate is mostly over what form of open space it will be; the people at lexfarm.org want it to be used as a community farm, while many “soccer parents” want to see the land turned into a sports field. Currently there are no farm advocates on the appointed board for the redevelopment project. This reminded me a lot of what’s going on in Milton, except that Milton hasn’t yet enacted the CPA and their debate is primarily over the affordable housing decision.  Lexington seems pretty okay with small-scale affordable housing on Busa Land.  Seeing as …

of blight and building

I was amused when I came across this flyer a couple of weeks ago: What I find funny about this poster is that while its creator clearly assumed that the natural answer to these questions would be, “No!  High-rise development is evil!”, some people felt so strongly the opposite that they were compelled to take out a pen from their pocket or purse and write their opinion on the poster.  And that’s how it is in Cambridge, where everyone is an activist, the general assumption is that everyone is against development, and people rarely fail to voice their (strong) opinions. A little background: the building under discussion was the long-time home of Bowl and Board, a home-furnishings store owned by Mike Giarusso.  It was part of a small New England chain which Giarusso opened in 1956.  He recently came upon some very hard times and moved from the Cambridge location to a storefront in Davis Square.  Unfortunately, due to financial and legal pressure, he was forced to liquidate his stores and close up shop this past summer. …

thank you, roger cohen.

My heart went pitter pat this week, when my boyfriend passed along “What Makes Cities Live,” an article about New York city by Roger Cohen of the NYT. It’s rare to read such an empassioned discussion of zoning that is not written by an urban planning wonk, and Cohen’s subject is at the heart of my goals for this blog. I could say a million things about this column (the least of which being my one unfortunate experiment with Chinese duck tongues), but I want to focus on one issue that is at the heart of his discussion.  This is the 21st century conflict between authenticity and cultural tourism.  In other words, how do cities create environments that are authentically local without making them into an amusement-park version of themselves?  He introduces this quandary with very precise, searing language, calling Times Square “a once seedy part of town re-imagined as the tourist-filled set for a movie called “New York.”  The idea of a movie set suggests the appearance of Times Square as a performance, an …