Your Turn: Preservation or development: Which should be the priority?
On Monday, we asked, "Should the city give priority to efforts to preserve potentially historic sites or should needs for development be given greater consideration?"
Below are the responses we received:
Development, preservation should exist together
Both. Keeping in mind Destination Medical Center, we should be creative so the old will work with the new.
Look at the Chateau Theater. It's too bad they can't make that a theater again. What great place that would be for small, local performing art groups. If I had the money, it would be, and again that is the problem.
The Mayo medical building/old library/post office, I love that building. It adds so much to the larger buildings.
I think if we listen to people, good or bad, we will find the right answers and things like people can work together for the betterment of all. Don't be afraid of input, there may be a jewel of a solution.
Brent W. Coggins
Process needs to find the right balance
Though many would no doubt agree with the "old is not historic" point made in the Post-Bulletin's commentary, what is clearly missing is the qualifying word "necessarily;" i.e. greater age does not automatically confer upon structures values which are worth preserving.
By the same token, something "old" shouldn't always be viewed as obsolete or non-adaptable, just as "newer" should not automatically connote "better" when considering larger development-driven growth. As with everything, a balance must be struck; and this we haven't seen much of in Rochester over time.
Too often in this process, local preservationists — who have mostly just attempted to challenge this community to adopt a modicum of those values which many similar-sized cities now take for granted — have been cynically labeled as shallow-pocket "obstructionists." In that regard, it's foolish to think that only those individuals with money — versus stakeholder groups with shared community values — can step-forward to decide what is historic, or which buildings should be saved.
Having for several decades watched this uneven contest, I therefore think it's good for our community that there finally is a process underway to assess that which is left; so that Rochester (and DMC) can incorporate the best of both development and preservation worlds.
Frank W. Hawthorne
Practical value is key part of preservation
Preservation usually talks about an individual property's historic value, but preservation also covers a practical value. Rochester has many older properties in use that can fill future needs as well. Preservation also looks beyond individual properties and looks at the effects one property has on its surroundings.
Housing in DMC tends to focus on apartments and increasing density, but 38 percent of those surveyed wanted to live in single-family homes near downtown. We have that housing stock, but it's getting eaten away for apartments. Despite our need for affordable housing, 100 units in Kutzky have been approved for demolition this year.
Many people like the old-fashioned main street shops. We have only one block downtown that is pre-World War II construction end-to-end, and it serves as the backdrop for Thursdays on First. Would this event be the same if it took place in a glass and concrete canyon? Older commercial buildings rent for less per square foot than mall space. This allows for the artists' district that has been growing on the south side of downtown.
In the 1920s, Mayo Clinic and Rochester were planning for a large expansion. One of the main decisions was to build to a higher standard, and many of these older properties still exist in good shape. Let's not squander the legacy handed to us.