Thursday, June 05, 2008

Living in the Past (Cont'd)

Today's column from Marc Fisher tackles the preservationist zealots of downtown Silver Spring and their irrational efforts to preserve the Falkland Chase apartments exactly as they are UNTIL THE END OF TIME. (You can read my take on this whole issue here.)

If you're too lazy to click through, here's some highlights:

"People recoil in horror at the idea that Falkland might be demolished" (emphasis mine)

Remarkably, preservationists have rejected offers by the developer to have two-thirds of the complex declared historic while the northern piece, almost surrounded by tall office and apartment buildings, is taken down to add density.

"Can you take a Michelangelo, rip off some of its corners and still retain its value?" (Falkland Chase = a Michelangelo? LOLZ!)

= ?

[T]he portion of the complex that the owners want to bulldoze consists of basic brick apartments surrounded mainly by parking lots.
(Speaking of irrational, the fight for free parking at all MoCo libraries continues.)

UPDATE: I also recommend the related chat.


becca said...

One of the things the WaPo article mentions is that the apartments are small with few amenities and "only graduate students", not families, are interested in living in them. I would add that they are hugely overpriced! I live in Summit Hills, on the other side of 16th & E/W Hwy, and pay as much for a 3 bdr in a midrise as those "graduate students" in Falkland Chase pay for a tiny 1 bdr. My husband and I have 2 kids, and could NEVER afford anything other than Summit Hills in the DTSS area. In fact, we're sadly planning to move west on the Marc line, because even Summit Hills is getting too expensive for our family.

Tear Falkland Chase down, put in midrises or highrises, lower the rent, add a public playground, and watch the families flood back into this little corner of DTSS.

Springvale Roader said...

If somebody could convince me that the Falkland Apartments were architecturally significant -- as opposed to pointing out that Eleanor Roosevelt once farted in its lobby -- then they might be worth saving. Otherwise, for goodness sake, can we all please move on with Silver Spring and build modern and affordable housing?!

Anonymous said...

Why are people against affordable housing near the metro station? Is it because Eleanor Roosevelt waved her magic wand over the cornerstone? Let's get real and continue the progress here in Silver Spring by building more affordable housing near public transportation.

Sligo said...

Maybe we should tear down all buildings in Silver Spring built after 1955 and rebuild downtown exactly as it was at that time. Only cars from that era will be allowed to drive through on streets and a streetcar line will be installed. All residents will be required to wear period-authentic clothing or face being sent to a re-education camp. We will rebuild the Armory and have mandatory-attendance sock hops every Friday night. All schools will be re-segregated and students will receive constant instruction in duck and covering.

chaz said...

The whole thing is pretty ridiculous, as is the "preserve everything" mantra that people occasionally spout, but if the counteragrument is affordable housing, I'm not sure I see it.

Who can point to evidence that new, denser housing built on that parcel would be more affordable?

I've yet to see any of the new buildings in SS open with lower rents (or prices, for condos) than existing properties. Denser housing tends to be more affordable per person in the long run, and more apartments=more people, but it's not like a couple of new buildings are going to keep low/middle income families in DTSS.

rd said...

On the other hand... if they don't allow Falkland Chase to be torn down, the developers would have to find somewhere else to build... and there are plenty of worse-looking places in DTSS (say the Ripley district).

Mike said...

Actually, the same developers do own property on Ripley and intend to develop it. Just no firm plans yet.

The Falklands proposal seems to me to be a good compromise and should be allowed to go forward.

John said...

If they don't build there, where else will they build the housing that the Washington region demands? Further out in the county? That would be anti-environmental S-P-R-A-W-L

Anonymous said...

good comments. I'm going to the hearing on thursday to say the same thing. join me or send an email. I hear the historic preservationists will be there in full force.

Anonymous said...

Word from IHateYuppies:

I think this proposed development has problems.

1. Traffic. Where will be the entry and exit points? E-W Hwy? 16th Street? Needless to say, this high-density development will bring plenty of car traffic to the East-West & 16th Street intersection area. That block is already congested with heavy traffic volume. The intersection at 16th Street and East-West Hwy. is already dangerous for pedestrians and there have been numerous vehicle accidents there.

2. Green space. I wonder how much green space will be hacked away for the high-rise developments. What makes Falkland Chase appealing to residents is the significant amount of green space surrounding the buildings. I don't know about you but I would like to see trees outside of my apartment than a concrete pit between buildings.

3. The current residents of Falkland Chase are overwhelmingly against this development. Why? Because the aesthetics of the green space and "community" feel will be ripped away. You can walk your dogs in the green areas. Sit at picnic tables and eat outside. Also, I think the rents will be considerably higher in the new buildings. Ironically, the Falkland Chase residents might be priced out in the new complexes.

I have little trust in real estate developers when they promise "affordable" rents for middle-income people. I agree with Chaz on this point. Plus, I don't think the management will allow large dogs into the new, pristine high-rise developments. Falkland residents love the benefit of owning larger dog breeds.

Again, we have members of these Silver Spring forums who put architecture and smart-growth planning ABOVE the interests of people who wish to remain in Silver Spring. If anything, Falkland Chase is the MODEL of smart, dense community planning. The new urbanist clique want to bulldoze every piece of historic property and green space to transform Silver Spring into a twisted New Urban babylon. You guys got Hellsworth planted in DTSS. Isn't that enough for you? Seriously. It's PEOPLE over architecture!


Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that smart growth or new Urbanism is pro-people. Having denser built communities around public transport help people by saving more land and recources for other people. Also, as a compromise, you are saving the landmark tower building off the 16th street circle and the nice wooded areas, the northern parcel is surrounded by parking spaces, so you get the best of both worlds. Michelangelo??? Wow!