Pedrali furnishes restaurant at Milan Nestlé headquarters

Dezeen promotion: Italian brand Pedrali has provided the furniture for a restaurant within the new Milan headquarters for food company Nestlé (+ slideshow). (more…)

 

Pedrali furnishes restaurant at Milan Nestlé headquarters

Dezeen promotion: Italian brand Pedrali has provided the furniture for a restaurant within the new Milan headquarters for food company Nestlé (+ slideshow). (more…)

 

Detroit Doesn’t Have to Demolish Nearly as Many Homes as Planned

This vacant house in Detroit’s MorningSide neighborhood will be auctioned off by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. (Photo by Anna Clark)

Call it a tale of two neighborhoods. On the far east side of Detroit, adjacent East English Village and MorningSide once marked the far point of the famed ribbon farms that stretched to the edge of the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. Around the turn of the century, Detroit’s borders began to expand and new roadways made downtown only a quick car ride away. By the 1920s the neighborhoods were studded with tidy brick homes from bungalows and Cape Cods to a few Art Moderne surprises. In a development boom that stretched into the 1930s, owners rather than developers hired builders and architects to bring unique design, house by house, to the tree-lined streets.

What emerged were two of the most appealing communities in the city, each led by active neighborhood associations and diverse, engaged residents. But in the last 10 or 15 years, the communities diverged.

East English Village weathered the worst of the national housing crisis and recession, as well as Detroit’s extraordinary financial difficulties, battered but intact. MorningSide was harder hit. While it is still home to a lively community, it tipped over the brink and vacancies spread, bringing with it a spiraling set of problems.

Yesterday, as part of Center for Community Progress’ Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference in Detroit this week, staff of the Detroit Land Bank Authority a tour through both neighborhoods, inviting guests to walk through homes and talk with new and longtime residents. Conversation during the “mobile workshop” focused on preservation and restoration. How can the land bank target its efforts to help East English Village, a neighborhood still at a tipping point, retain its treasured stability and character? As a quick look down the road makes apparent, it doesn’t take long for problems to take root. Also, how can the land bank support the residents of MorningSide so that the community regains its strength?

Among the tactics: “judicious demolition.” Carrie Lewand-Moore, senior adviser at the land bank, broke the news that the organization is reducing its estimate for the number of recommended demolitions in the city from the 80,000 cited in the 2014 Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Report to 40,000. More homes are rehabitable than previously thought. As Craig Fahle, the land bank’s communications director put it, while many homes are in poor shape, their original construction has proved solid enough to survive lack of maintenance, exposure and even, in some cases, fire. Homes purchased through the land bank typically require a great deal of work, and the land bank has strict requirements and timelines to ensure that it gets done, but the result is often a gorgeous historic home that costs far less than what, at a glance, it may appear to be worth.

Many vacant lots have been turned into pocket parks, like this one, which is dedicated to mothers. A graphic artist painted the colorful wall. (Photo by Anna Clark)

That said, demolition is sometimes necessary for houses that are beyond hope. MorningSide in particular has seen a number of wrecking balls, with more to come. To ensure that they are not left as vacant lots or dumping grounds, however, the land bank is working with community members on programs like side-lot purchasing. In some cases, then, the lots become a luxuriously large yard for a local resident. The MorningSide neighborhood association is also working to develop pocket parks in the newly open land. One is dedicated to mothers, with an expansive colorfully painted wall. The neighborhood association obtains small community grants of $1,000 or $2,500 to cover the cost of, for example, paint, or a new wooden fence, or patio seating that makes the new park a gathering place. Another pocket park in the works will be designated for kids. Fahle also said that a program will roll out this summer where lots can be leased for $25 per year for up to three years. The only requirement is that the person with the lease has the approval of a block club for what they want to do with the lot.

“We’re trying to make land available to citizens,” Fahle said. “For too long, it’s been locked up.”

Regina Royan of the city’s Department of Health and Wellness Protection, said that demolition best practices are improving. Now, demolition crews are expected to leave the lots on an even grade with a layer of topsoil and seeding upon it. New mixtures of soil are being considered for their ability to retain stormwater. Lewand-Moore added that the team uses a “wet-wet” demolition process: wetting down the property before demolishing it, and then wetting down the ground after the work is complete. This, along with physical barriers, suppresses dust and the spread of environmental hazards. Community members are actively watching to make sure all this actually happens, according to Jackie Grant of the MorningSide neighborhood association, and even schoolchildren are taking note of what company names are on the trucks. Non-compliant activity is reported to a hotline staffed by the Detroit Building Authority. Grant sounded amazed that over the last year or so, she’s found it possible to reach a live person when she makes a call. “And they actually get back to you,” she added.

To keep additional homes from falling into a derelict state, the land bank’s nuisance abatement program gives it the power to take legal action against the owners of vacant properties (never occupied properties). This pushes the owner into entering consent agreements with the land bank to rehabilitate their property, and stem the spread of blight throughout the neighborhood.

Most significantly, the land bank is coordinating efforts to put people into MorningSide and East English Village’s empty houses. It leads neighborhood home tours that are drawing hundreds of possible buyers — 1,050 came to the first one last year, and at the most recent one last weekend, 800 came through, according to Fahle. The land bank clears the title of the homes and cleans them up before offering them at auction at a starting bid of $1,000. Purchasers are aided in receiving financing through partnerships with banks. And rather than subject the community to the whims of unserious or unscrupulous purchasers, it works closely with the new homeowners to ensure that progress is made on swiftly bringing their houses up to code and neighborhood standards. A staff architect checks in on how they are doing. The new owner has six months to complete work and have the home occupied, starting from the close of the sale.

“We talk about property rights, and that’s important,” Fahle said. “But there’s also responsibility that comes with property ownership.”

 

New York Embarks on Two-Year Culture Survey

New York City Embarks on Two-Year Culture Survey for Future Planning
 

Black Marble Runs Through This Refined Berlin Apartment

Berlin apartment with a modern dining room

The 1,500-square-foot apartment is a Moscow-based couple's second home. The stately dining setup features a custom table and Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs. PSLAB is responsible for the lighting concept throughout.

Image courtesy of Jens Bösenberg.
 

Black Marble Runs Through This Refined Berlin Apartment

Berlin apartment with a modern dining room

The 1,500-square-foot apartment is a Moscow-based couple's second home. The stately dining setup features a custom table and Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs. PSLAB is responsible for the lighting concept throughout.

Image courtesy of Jens Bösenberg.
 

yabu pushelberg debuts updated BLINK collection at clerkenwell design week


visitors to the festival will be able to view and enjoy pieces from the collection, which now features a light, fun palette of coral and grey.

The post yabu pushelberg debuts updated BLINK collection at clerkenwell design week appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.

 

Houzz Tour: A Supersize Playhouse Among the Vineyards (11 photos)

In 2006 a semiretired couple moved into Hill House, their dream rural home on the Mornington Peninsula, southeast of Melbourne, Australia. Eight years later, determined to share their vineyard...

 

Tham & Videgård draws up designs for “Sweden’s statistically most sought-after home”

Swedish firm Tham & Videgård has attempted to design Sweden's most desired house – a mash-up of the nation's traditional red-painted timber cottages and a functional box. (more…)

 

Philly Vote Shows Support for Pre-K, Women and Immigrants

Democratic mayoral candidate Jim Kenney, center, celebrates after winning the primary election on May 19, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In Philadelphia’s mayoral primary yesterday, Democrat Jim Kenney was a clear winner. The former councilman beat his opponents — including a former city district attorney and a pro-charter school state senator — by a wide margin. Voter turnout was low, about 22 percent of those registered.

Kenney, who worked on issues ranging from marijuana decriminalization to LGBT rights and inclusion of immigrants on council in recent years, gained the support of several labor unions and, by most accounts, ran the tightest campaign.

Typically for Philly, where the GOP is powerless, the Democratic primary winner is the next mayor. However, a more interesting race is possible in 2015 because a former city councilman with political dynasty behind his name, Bill Green, could make a run as an independent.

The ballot questions and one council seat race yesterday highlighted concerns felt throughout cities in the U.S.

In what Philadelphia magazine called “a battle over gentrification,” a real estate developer lost in his attempt to unseat a city council incumbent: “ … The wealthy developer is seen by some as responsible for gentrification of the badly blighted Point Breeze section of Philadelphia. And it also highlighted racial tension in the [neighborhood]. The choice, for some, boiled down to an African American Point Breeze native versus a rich white Jewish guy originally from the suburbs.”

Two ballot questions dealt with public schools. Voters gave the nod both to the city trying to take back control of its school district (the state’s been in charge for years), and to exploring universal pre-K (something Kenney supports too). Amid louder nationwide calls for equal pay and mandates to diversify municipal workforces, city residents also embraced the resolution to form a Commission for Women. Finally, in a city where an influx of immigrants has largely been credited with reversing a population slump, a move to make sure city services were more accessible to non-English speakers was also approved.

 



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