Comment of the Day: Demolition for a Better Future

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DEMOLITION FOR A BETTER FUTURE “When we do not preserve our past, we are able to have a wide open future. A future with more efficient, ecologically congruent buildings. Buildings with modern HVAC, windows, flood control. Tearing down old cool looking buildings is just that. We lose cool looking buildings from another time. I personally live in a renovated old house, and before that lived in another cool-looking old house. I preserved each. I don’t think renovating/preserving has anything to do with the future of either location. So, while the Deco style is great and would be fantastic if someone saw the residual value, it’s not crucial to anything. The market has spoken. If they build an unappealing, out-of-touch new building — the buy side will also speak, and not reward the owner with their business. This is how the world should work. Forcing a property owner through regulation to appreciate the styling of yesteryear is anti-productive. I have a heart a for gray area on this when it comes to public buildings. Then it is owned by the public, and needs to be considered more broadly on how the tax-paying public feels about the continued use/retention of a historic or interesting-looking, dated building. Think City Hall.” [Bo Darley, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Fannin Flames] Illustration: Lulu

14 Comment

  • agree totally. If you build crap, the market will punish you. And if it doesn’t, the market (people) have spoken.

  • This is the short-sighted approach that the people of Houston have chosen. It’s not the only way. The market may know all today, but what about 10 years from now when all we have left is the crap we built today. We can build new crap then that the market likes, but we can’t get back what we lost. I agree that we don’t have to keep everything that’s old, but if we don’t keep anything, we can never get it back.

  • Stop talking about markets. This was a post office, then a county building. It’s been abandoned for years, apparently. It was flooded and isn’t up to modern fire safety codes.

  • Plus all the new buildings will be old soon enough. Who gets to decide what era needs to be preserved as-is? If you really like preservation, maybe we should bulldoze everything and return the whole region to a grassy coastal plain devoid of any human beings.

  • Chicago Style with spandrel panels and modernist sensibility. Perhaps one of few remaining in Houston?

    The market? Really, I mean really?! Have you seen the ‘junk’ that gets built today. There are no more craftsman, journeymen or stone masons of this type and quality anymore.

    For shame, for shame…

  • Yes, there is nothing historic about that brown box. It lools like a paper sack. If it makes sense, tear it down. If not, give it the jaws of life. Who cares?

    The old courthouse on the other hand is historic and owned by taxpayers. Keep that one and everything else in north downtown can go modern.

  • F minus for simultaneously making a market forces argument against preservation and a flood control argument. The latter is entirely imposed by regulation.

    Historic preservation in Houston affects an infinitesimal amount of property and razing these buildings for more efficient buildings is a tear drop in a salted sea of economic and environmental affects of real estate development.

  • I actually think that Old School has the stronger argument here.
    The only caveat that I would insert (which would effectively obliterate his/her point for practical purposes) is that I think that when a government entity like the City of Houston institutes preservation rules that deprive individual property owners of the ability to redevelop their land, and the diminished bundle of rights results in the value of their property also being diminished, that the property owner should be compensated for the difference.
    That caveat is a bridge to Bo Darley’s comments regarding public structures, making those considerations also applicable to private property…but only if the public will pay for what the public wants.

  • The city is never far from the cusp of bankruptcy and cannot sufficiently meet its commitments to taxpayers and those in need. Let’s be real here, free market or not public finances and services are more important than preservation and the city owes it to taxpayers to keep their eye on efficiencies and expenses when they’re making the grade to begin with.
    Like all the rich folks giving gobs of money to memorial & the bayou parks, preservation would be best enacted by a private organization that could take control of the management and not be tied to public funds.
    The city is broke and it’s taxpayers have all the money in this city.

  • I’m largely in agreement with joel’s comment: namely, the city is perpetually about-to-be-broke and that private donors should put up the cash for private preservation efforts. After all, the rich have the money.
    The city’s function should be the bread-and-butter of municipal services: police and fire protection, libraries, road maintenance, airports, and water and sewer services. Not the sexiest list but necessary local items. If politicians want to feed their ego, run for higher office.
    Parks is an adjunct but should also be bankrolled by rich donors for large capital projects while the city will do ongoing maintenance.

  • But… gentrification

  • Based on rigorous statistical analysis, 90% of all instances of “historic preservation” are, in fact, more about density restriction than preservation. That’s why so many of these ordinances (Houston’s included, with the adoption of new design guidelines) include caps on height, lot coverage and floor area ratio, and minimums on lot sizes and setbacks.

  • Bottom line, very few people care about historic preservation. If they did money would be there for it. People care more about their money than old buildings, I agree.

  • Statements like this are I why I often reply that if the Alamo were in Houston, I would have been torn down long ago.