OPEN LETTER to Ald. Tony Zielinski: Faust Site Redevelopment
April 1, 2015
Faust Site Redevelopment
Open Letter To Ald. Tony Zielinski
March 23, 2015
I’ll be out of town on March 31st and unable to attend the Faust redevelopment meeting, unfortunately, so am expressing my concerns here.
Good urban design demands integration with the surrounding neighborhood and because this site is a gateway to Bay View, it’s crucial that the Faust redevelopment project is done in a way that welcomes residents and visitors, not offends them. The current proposal of five stories is much too massive for the site, out of context with KK’s commercial and neighborhood scale. As proposed, the structure is a confrontation to those of us who value Kinnickinnic Avenue for its unique historic character, which is serving Bay View quite admirably. Restaurants and shops are doing quite well using the existing building stock.
There is no need to overwhelm the street with structures such as that proposed; taller structures may be placed elsewhere where they fit in context, not on KK. Warehouse redevelopment activity in the Third and Fifth Ward and in Walker’s Point is a good example. In those places, taller buildings fit in. Eventually this may happen in Bay View on the Grand Trunk site or across the river in the large warehouses near Barnacle Bud’s or other locations where taller building would mesh. But not on KK.
As our public servant, we’re counting on you to represent the viewpoints of the Bay View community at large in your decision-making, not just property owners on KK. KK is an integral part of our community — the backbone, essentially — and its integrity needs to be protected for its uniqueness rather than wholesale transformation into a street dwarfed by four or five story buildings.
Thank you, Tony.
PS Recently I showed the image of the proposed development in the Bay View Compass to my mother and asked her in a nonbiased way what she thought of it. She was appalled, and said,”There’s no way something like that could be built on Kinnickinnic, is there?” Let’s hope not.
Alderman Zielinski’s Response
March 23, 2015
The developers will not build the project without this density. They indicate to me that without this density the numbers don’t work for them. So what we are doing is making the building look more traditional with more bricks, etc. That is a compromise and everybody has some voice in the project then.
If I vote no on this project, then we will lose a $12 million development, additional patrons for the businesses, and less life on the street, which translates into the area not being as safe as it could be. We would also lose out on the additional tax revenue that would be generated. Moreover, this site is likely to be a vacant and abandoned storefront near the gateway of Bay View on KK. In that scenario it would remain vacant and abandoned for years to come.
Every business owner I visited in that area is strongly in favor of the project.
Knowing all this do you want me to try to kill the project?
Angie Tornes’s Reply
March 24, 2015
Thanks for your response regarding the developer’s concern for density and by default, height, needed to make his project work. Rather than “kill the project,” I’d urge you to guide it to an appropriate setting away from Kinnickinnic, where desired density can be reached via a larger footprint with less height or the same height where it blends in to the surroundings. As I mentioned in my previous email, there are places in Bay View suitable for such developments.
Consider the recent wave of people, most of whom are disproportionately younger, returning to cities and to specific neighborhoods in cities. We would be wise to pay attention to findings in a 2014 report, “Older, Smaller Better: Measuring How the Character of Buildings and Blocks Influences Urban Vitality.” The report uses metrics in several case studies and documents that neighborhoods with older, smaller buildings in commercial zones surrounded by neighborhoods are highly attractive, particularly to younger people, and have a greater concentration of new and creative jobs and density. This trend is already happening on and around Kinnickinnic; if we maintain the integrity and ambiance of both our commercial and residential districts, new residents will increasingly be drawn to KK and Bay View.
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