Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Parks, Minneapolis Public Schools, Density, Zoning, etc.
MNdible
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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby MNdible » March 12th, 2014, 11:36 am

If you think that Palmisano isn't supported by the broad majority of her constituents on this issue, then you don't know Ward 13 very well.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby kbee » March 12th, 2014, 11:38 am

And if I had recently purchased a home in the neighborhood with plans to teardown and rebuild (completely within the limits of existing ordinance) and was told: Surprise! You've got to wait a year, I would be very upset as well.

If the intent really is to have a one-year moratorium I would call that an undue burden on people who had a reasonable expectation to carry out their plans with their property.

And if the intent is to use the threat of a one-year moratorium as a bargaining chip or to set the frame of the debate, then I would call it a pretty cynical manipulation of real people's lives for the sake of politics.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby David Greene » March 12th, 2014, 12:27 pm

alleycat wrote:I find it hilarious that the same city that tears down any home with a bit of mold in North like it's a pastime has the gall to enact such a moratorium. One Minneapolis...
Spot on.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 12th, 2014, 12:51 pm

David Greene wrote:
alleycat wrote:I find it hilarious that the same city that tears down any home with a bit of mold in North like it's a pastime has the gall to enact such a moratorium. One Minneapolis...
Spot on.
http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/249855031.html

What's worse is how many of those demolished homes had nothing go up in their place. Argue merits of the architecture, massing, etc, but at least the new SFHs are something and not a vacant lot.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby David Greene » March 12th, 2014, 12:57 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:
David Greene wrote:
alleycat wrote:I find it hilarious that the same city that tears down any home with a bit of mold in North like it's a pastime has the gall to enact such a moratorium. One Minneapolis...
Spot on.
http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/249855031.html

What's worse is how many of those demolished homes had nothing go up in their place. Argue merits of the architecture, massing, etc, but at least the new SFHs are something and not a vacant lot.
That's a damning map indeed.

As to the article:

"Johnson said she would not be surprised if the council accomplishes that through some additional design standards."

Perhaps this is an opportunity for this group to advocate for form-based zoning.

The picture in the article is informative. The larger house in question certainly looks like a nice design. Some thought was put into making it resemble period homes. Unfortunately, they didn't get it quite right. It looks like the roof pitch is too steep and that shed dormer just looks odd. The whole house has a huge amount of roofing material to look at; it sort of puts it right in your face.

I know this is all subjective personal preference but I do think the house looks out of place in that picture. It's not nearly as bad as some but it could use improvement.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby Nick » March 12th, 2014, 6:14 pm

I don't really have a position on this, but given that we know things like vacant houses depress property values to some extent, do you think living next to houses like these would effect property values in a positive way, negative way, or not at all?

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby MNdible » March 12th, 2014, 6:42 pm

Not to harp on the whole light and air thing again, but one of the things that irks me about the puffed up houses that get dropped into these neighborhoods is that they're really "borrowing" their neighbors open space. They bloat out and fill up their entire lot, taking for granted that the smaller, shorter houses next door will allow them to still get air, light, and views.

I have a friend who had one of these beasts pop up next door to their house, and the effect was down-right depressing. Where there used be the beautiful enfilade of one backyard opening to the next and the next all of the way down the block, they were suddenly presented with a 2 1/2 story master suite looking right down into their backyard.

I know there's not a ton of love on this board for the "neighborhood character" argument, rather preferring a laissez faire attitude where the invisible hand dictates what gets built. But the Minneapolis SFH neighborhoods are really quite lovely. It's one thing to increase density -- these big houses don't do that. And it's one thing to increase property value by building a nicer home, but too often, these houses are just bulking up with dumb square footage that will sit empty almost all of the time.

And since I've used three french words in this post already, I'll leave it at that.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby Silophant » March 12th, 2014, 6:57 pm

Speaking only for myself (obviously), I would tend to agree with the neighborhood character argument when it's used in this situation. It only rustles my jimmies when it's used to try to stop a 6-story building from being built at an intersection already featuring another 6-story building as well as an 18-story building.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby David Greene » March 12th, 2014, 7:58 pm

Nick wrote:I don't really have a position on this, but given that we know things like vacant houses depress property values to some extent, do you think living next to houses like these would effect property values in a positive way, negative way, or not at all?
That doesn't look like a period house at all. The eaves are wrong, the door is wrong, there's no porch and there's an odd extension off the back and side. Either this house was built 1960 or later or someone did a really crappy update to a period house.

I don't think anyone would mind a teardown of that house. But I also don't think a McMansion fits here.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 12th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Like I said, I don't necessarily have love for the new homes that are springing up. I think there are certainly classic design elements for every type of structure that are timeless and I would assume good architects would balance these elements with needs of people today. However, Modernist buildings don't fit in whatsoever with 1900s era homes in terms of lines, eaves, mass, etc. But it certainly has a big following and I'm not one to meddle with others' tastes. A modernist home would look 10x more out of place than the "not so well done" imitations just larger in scale.

Again, the massing thing is a red herring for me. If it's just a larger SFH sucking up energy for the same number of people (potentially less), then I don't see an inherent positive. But a small apartment with the same massing housing 5-10x the number of people could show up and have enormous environmental and neighborhood positives, even if it does suck up the light, air, and privacy (all private goods) of its neighbors. Given prices people are willing to pay to live near here, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that zoning is hampering intensification in these areas, allowing people with tons of money to go ahead and build new, larger SFHs 'cuz they can.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby Nick » March 12th, 2014, 9:02 pm

David Greene wrote:
Nick wrote:I don't really have a position on this, but given that we know things like vacant houses depress property values to some extent, do you think living next to houses like these would effect property values in a positive way, negative way, or not at all?
That doesn't look like a period house at all. The eaves are wrong, the door is wrong, there's no porch and there's an odd extension off the back and side. Either this house was built 1960 or later or someone did a really crappy update to a period house.

I don't think anyone would mind a teardown of that house. But I also don't think a McMansion fits here.
I meant the big red one.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby MNdible » March 13th, 2014, 9:34 am

My personal opinion, but I think that scale, massing, and setbacks are much more important than style.

You'll walk through neighborhoods that have tudors, bungalows, and foursquares sitting next to 50's and 60's modernist homes quite comfortably, because they were all playing by the same rules -- namely, it's not very neighborly to build a house that towers over the ones around it.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby David Greene » March 13th, 2014, 10:36 am

Nick wrote:
David Greene wrote:
Nick wrote:I don't really have a position on this, but given that we know things like vacant houses depress property values to some extent, do you think living next to houses like these would effect property values in a positive way, negative way, or not at all?
That doesn't look like a period house at all. The eaves are wrong, the door is wrong, there's no porch and there's an odd extension off the back and side. Either this house was built 1960 or later or someone did a really crappy update to a period house.

I don't think anyone would mind a teardown of that house. But I also don't think a McMansion fits here.
I meant the big red one.
So did I. :)

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 13th, 2014, 11:54 am

MNdible wrote:My personal opinion, but I think that scale, massing, and setbacks are much more important than style.

You'll walk through neighborhoods that have tudors, bungalows, and foursquares sitting next to 50's and 60's modernist homes quite comfortably, because they were all playing by the same rules -- namely, it's not very neighborly to build a house that towers over the ones around it.
No argument that massing is more important than design for how a neighborhood feels. I guess the question is when do neighborhoods get to change if new structures aren't allowed to mass above nearby ones? For reference, this house was on the market until very recently and was on my wife and my short list (since it had been on for so long, we thought it still would be): http://goo.gl/maps/4IROF The apartment next to is is only 2.5 stories high, but it's much more massive then any SFH from 1900-1950. It comes closer to both the sidewalk and alley, all in box shape (not vertical tapering), and certainly casts shadows and prying eyes to on the yard to its north. Yet I would gladly have lived in that house for the price it was listed at given its location (bummer it's gone now).

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby mulad » March 13th, 2014, 1:48 pm

I guess I haven't seen the properties in question here, but the conversation is making me think of a New Urbanist development in Middleton, Wisconsit, a suburb of Madison. That's a pretty pricey neighborhood with houses packed fairly close together, though if you go to Streetview, many of them still have significant amounts of space between them. That neighborhood also has just about the highest density of flower gardens I've ever seen, so it would seem that when people get short on space between buildings, they find other ways to compensate for the lack of large yards by making what's left much prettier (though perhaps that's built into their homeowner's association agreements).

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby Nick » March 13th, 2014, 3:23 pm

David Greene wrote:
Nick wrote:I meant the big red one.
So did I. :)
I think we agree with each other--I meant if someone tore down a period house and built that red house.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby David Greene » March 13th, 2014, 9:27 pm

Nick wrote:
David Greene wrote:
Nick wrote:I meant the big red one.
So did I. :)
I think we agree with each other--I meant if someone tore down a period house and built that red house.
Gotcha. You statement about vacant houses confused me.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby blobs » March 14th, 2014, 10:12 am

I lived next to a few tear downs near the lakes (SW mpls) and there's a bunch in Longfellow and Nokomis too. No complains. Construction wasn't loud. They looked nice. Crews kept their stuff near the curb and nobody had problems driving down the streets. Yeah there's big houses going in...big whoop...there are big houses built in the past too. Only thing is I'd like to see more alley streets than curb cuts but too late for that I guess.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby twincitizen » March 19th, 2014, 8:17 am

There should absolutely be a ban on new driveway curb cuts where an alley is present.

Street facing driveways and garages will ruin the character of our neighborhoods faster than any monster houses with bad architecture.

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Re: Southwest Minneapolis Teardown Moratorium

Postby Archiapolis » March 19th, 2014, 8:35 am

twincitizen wrote:This "surprise" moratorium reminds me of when Meg Tuthill introduced ordinances to ban rooftop patios in Uptown a few summers ago.

She tried to bring bar owners and neighbors together to figure out a solution to the noise problem. It was a key issue to some of her constituents. Bar owners didn't care much and ignored complaints. She introduced a "surprise ordinance" and it brought everyone to the table to hash out a solution. It pissed a lot of people off and her ordinance was ultimately shelved, but the noise problem was largely solved (to my knowledge, and to the extent that bar-noise in Uptown can be mitigated).


I don't think CM Palmisano's actual intent here is to have a moratorium on teardowns for an entire year. People have been raising concerns about the monster house thing and bad behavior of construction crews, etc. for a while now. It was a key issue in the Ward 13 contest. Introducing a "surprise" ordinance gets everyone's attention and brings them to the table to work out a solution. CM Palmisano is pro-growth, pro-density and she ran on that. I hardly think she aims to freeze SW Minneapolis in amber.

I think people are overreacting and we need to wait and see what moves the council makes in the next few weeks.
I think this is one of the most level-headed responses that I've seen. This is my ward CM and I live in one of the affected neighborhoods. I can see both sides of the argument.

With all of that said, I agree with the view that this moratorium is not intended to cease development/building for a year. There are some legitimate concerns here that need to be addressed. I think the noise, mess, etc issues are minor nuisances but points used to give additional weight to this moratorium when the real issues are height, floor area ratio, setbacks, etc.

As for the "blindside/warning" argument, it must be acknowledged that the only thing a warning does is to create a massive rush to get in ahead of the deadline. A warning does not create an orderly and civil condition that is helpful to the developers/builders/neighbors. Devs, builders and architects would still be massively opposed to a moratorium even if they had advanced warning.

While proposing a one year moratorium looks bad, what really matters is the very near term future and how quickly some new guidelines can be put in place to address the issues/concerns. If this truly means one year of no building, then it is going to be a major blow to Palmisano. I would argue strenuously to work quickly to resolve the issues and get new guidelines in place quickly but I understand why both "sides" are aggrieved.


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