Preservation or development: how about both?

The March/April edition of Preservation Magazine

I recently came to possess something of a novelty: a copy of an actual magazine.

It’s novel because so much of the reading I do is online. Fortunately, the article I am going to briefly reference here is online as well and you can read it in its entirety here.

The article, “Preservation Redefined,” is a breezy article about local developers who might be better called “preservers.” Anne Michelson, Michael Malone, Ted Schroth, and Liz Dunn have all completed projects to transform the Pike-Pine Corridor. But what looks like new development has really been preservation.

The new Elliot Bay Books location (Malone), the Winston (Michelson), the Oddfellows Building (Schroth), and Melrose Market (Dunn) are all new feeling, lively, and examples of how to create livable and walkable neighborhoods. But each of those projects didn’t flatten existing buildings and build new ones. Rather, preservation is new development in each of these cases.

I’d known about each of these folks in one way or another for years. I met with Michelson a few years ago to talk about development and preservation. I found her to be smart and truly committed to the idea of both economic development and preservation. I talked with Schroth when he was, quite unfairly, being vilified by some for buying and starting to redevelop the Oddfellows building. It’s working.

Both Dunn and Malone have been doing lots of work lately in Pike-Pine and perhaps might pick up, along with the others in the article, the idea of citywide Transfer of Development Rights for historic buildings. Expanding TDR is important, I think, because it would both preserve and develop. All of these preservationist developers have shown how to do this. Historic TDR might just open up this process more places, allowing the preservation of buildings, existing uses, and creating density.

Anyway, when you’re bored with Osama news, check out the article.

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5 Responses to Preservation or development: how about both?

  1. I think your link is broken!

  2. . says:

    Hi Ben,

    I think I fixed it……keyboard doesn’t always do what I tell it to do.



  3. Matt the Engineer says:

    I was sad to see Elliot Bay Books ditch Pioneer Square, but they really kept the feel of the place in their new location. I’ll have to check out the other buildings on the list.

  4. Mark S Johnson says:

    The TDR thing keeps coming up. You might have a talk with Dennis Meier at DPD about how well it is working. From my perspective, the idea zoning for more highrise generally, and the idea of expanding TDR programs both risk a negative effect on areas that already have TDR available – like Pioneer Square. That’s because of the law of supply and demand. Increase the supply of transferable rights, the price of those rights will go down. That means less money available for preservation of any given historic building. If we increase the number of receiving sites without increasing the number of sending sites, we may be able to generate more demand, assuming the receiving sites are somewhere people want to build highrises, but that assumes there aren’t alternatives sites that don’t include the cost of the TDR.

    Rezones like those being contemplated in South Lake Union and elsewhere create supply of highrise space without the cost of TDR, which has the same diluting effect on the price people are willing to pay for transferable development rights. SLU will likely have incentive zoning provisions that will aim at other social and environmental goals that may act like TDR in terms of the base cost for the entitlement, but the overall effect is likely to be that South Lake Union will compete with Pioneer Square for projects that are willing to pay for the right to develop highrise building space.

    One might say let’s do it all at once: expand TDR programs, upzone wherever it’s politically feasible. But an alternative is to select a handful of places where the we can get the biggest bang for the buck and try to focus on making those work really well.

  5. Pingback: There’s History in Them (Capitol) Hills

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