OPEN LETTER to Ald. Tony Zielinski: Faust Site Redevelopment

April 1, 2015

Faust Site Redevelopment

Open Letter To Ald. Tony Zielinski

March 23, 2015

Hi Tony,

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.

Angie Tornes
Bay View

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

Hello Angie,

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?

Sincerely,
Tony

Angie Tornes’s Reply

March 24, 2015

Hi Tony,

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.

Angie Tornes
Bay View

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Comments

One Comment on "OPEN LETTER to Ald. Tony Zielinski: Faust Site Redevelopment"

  1. Sharon Shell on Wed, 1st Apr 2015 2:52 pm 

    Dear Angie, your open letter to the Alderman was well thought out and addresses the concerns of almost everyone I know in Bay View.
    Why settle for another monstrosity just so we don’t lose out on a 12 Million Development.
    Yes we need to generate revenue and keep the area safe, yet not at the integrity of the Bay View we all know and love
    By suggesting that this site is likely to be a vacant and abandoned storefront is nothing but a desperate scare tactic.
    Why bend over for a $12 Million Development, as if it is the last offer on earth.
    It is most likely because Mr. Zielinski is an acquaintance of said developer.
    I also believe there are many other developers with a better eye for detail.
    With all due respect, I know somebody who was looking for a business site in Bay View several years ago, (and this is hearsay) but I was told that Tony had more or less told him to pick a site, and that the current occupants would be evicted.
    I don’t know if that was true or not, but it still makes me wonder.
    I am embarrassed by both “Dwell” and the “Art Stop”, and I feel that for a development of this size and scope, a referendum should be called for.
    When I moved to Bay View 30 years ago, I moved here for the character of this quaint area.
    Now I find that people want to move to Bay View because they love the neighborhoods so much, and the first thing they want to do is change it.
    I am also appalled by what seems to be an influx of money from Illinois.
    People buying properties and then raising the rent by 50% or more. At this rate many of those who rent will be priced right out of here.
    Another fact to consider is that our assessments have taken a huge nose-dive since 2006, it is now so affordable that these Illinois investors will buy us right out of here.
    For example our condo at Bay View Terrace was assessed for $205,700 in 2006. It is currently assessed for $153,900.
    Do the math!
    Sincerely, Sharon Shell

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