Friday, June 23, 2006

Of high-rises and small-minded, batshit crazzies

Many city “leaders” like Vince Fumo still fail to grasp the concept that density actually improves cities and makes them vibrant, attractive places to live and visit.

The most recent example is the Barnes Tower. Fumo, Councilman Clarke and a bunch of neighborhood "batshit crazies" are afraid of heights. They don’t want a residential high-rise built near their neighborhood. Vows Fumo: “This community has enough funds to litigate this for the next 20 years."

The Barnes TowerWow, that doesn’t sound spoiled and childlike at all.

Unfortunately for them, living in a city means living in an environment of [perpetual] growth and change. (Sustained growth would be ideal.) Oh wait, they must prefer the version of Philadelphia in which new buildings aren’t built, population plummets, schools fail and businesses leave — much like Philadelphia circa 1960-90.

Seriously, bear with us for a minute. Earlier this year, a bunch of residents in 250 S. 17th Street (a high-rise at 17th just south of Locust) almost blocked another high-rise — which incidentally was a model of sound urban development — from being built on a surface parking lot next door to it because, now get this, they didn’t want to lose their views of South Philadelphia.

The gall of you obtuse fucking assholes.

You live in Center City. The third biggest downtown in America. Just because, the city has been dead for some thirty years, and nothing was built next door, does not mean that nothing can be built there now that the city is actually healthy and trying to grow.

That’s what cities do — they build up.

A 25-story building at 17th and goddamn Locust has no right to any views other than views of the walls of the buildings next to it. It’s in the center of the goddamn city. We’ll build a fortress of high-rises around your fucking building if we feel like it.

In the end, Mayor Street stepped in to mediate and the residents of 250 S. 17th Street not only got a compromise design that preserved their views, they also got a settlement of $350,000 from the developer. The residents of Philadelphia, on the other hand, got figged.

Now if that ain’t the epitome of the backwards-as-shit, moronic-as-hell, clusterfucked-beyond-belief processes and outcomes that consistently plague Philadelphia, we don’t know what is.

But what to do? It’s obvious that the city needs a mayor who recognizes the vital importance of good urban planning. And one that subsequently empowers his planning commission to deliver as much. We've pretty much written off any hope of Street ever realizing this. (The planning commission is currently pathetic.) But he'll be gone soon.

Is it Nutter? Saidel? We don’t know. All signs point to it not being Johnny Doc, that’s for sure.

Hopefully, it will be someone. Maybe Amy Gutmann.

Inga Saffron: Barnes Tower has flaws; height is not one of them [Inky]
The hypocrisy coupled with the batshit crazies is enough to make you cry [Philly Skyline, 6.21]
Vince Fumo to developer: don’t you know who I am? [Inky]
Residents of 250 S. 17th fuck the city like a dirty whore [Inky]


Ruby Legs said...

Rage on!

Apparently Fumo cares so much about this tower because he lives in the neighboorhood.

check out

he has a nice discussion of the project.

Chris said...

Tremendous, tremendous post.