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amiller92
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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby amiller92 » April 25th, 2016, 10:51 am

beige_box wrote:Exactly, and it just makes that kind of unit all the more precarious in the event of power outages. I wish they would just build narrow open-air shafts in these buildings, like you find in Paris and stuff. It would go a long way toward making these units not feel like weird caves removed from reality.

Buried power lines tend to make power outages infrequent.

As for personal preference, I'm with you. There were a lot of condo units built in the early 2000s as "lofts" with windows only on the short end that I didn't give much consideration to when shopping, because it doesn't appeal to me. But obviously someone likes them.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby MNdible » April 25th, 2016, 11:14 am

EOst wrote:^ The most confusingly vitriolic post I've seen here yet, and that's saying something
Neither confusing nor vitriolic.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby EOst » April 25th, 2016, 11:45 am

I stopped reading after the first two paragraphs were full of this:
Archiapolis wrote:Putting your own desires and opinions aside, the EVIDENCE (built projects) is clear
Archiapolis wrote: Do you realize
Archiapolis wrote:Do you understand
Archiapolis wrote: you clearly don't understand
Because that's just condescending something-or-other.

But you're right, the rest of the post is fine. So, sorry Archiapolis: not the most vitriolic, just deeply condescending in the first part.
Last edited by EOst on April 25th, 2016, 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby Archiapolis » April 25th, 2016, 11:46 am

mister.shoes wrote:For the record, I found your long post to be incredibly insightful and a good peek behind the curtain of the industry. So thank you.
Brevity has never been one of my strengths but thanks.

I'm just one person with an opinion and I try to support my opinions without making ad hominem attacks. I'm always excited to see that people care so much about the built environment on this forum. I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me - the discussion is what is interesting/fun for me. I don't participate here with the sole purpose of validation.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby beige_box » April 25th, 2016, 11:49 am

Nice nice we got some good discussion going on at forum.streets.mn 2day! nice. here goes:
Archiapolis wrote: the EVIDENCE (built projects) is clear - these buildings lease up and get sold. The market for multi-family rental is strong and it is off the charts in desirable cities with strong economies (Minneapolis). The projects are in SUCH high demand from investors that many of them sell before they have left "the drawing board." Do you realize how strong that is as an investment? [...] do you understand that they are being sold for large profits?
Yes. It is painfully easy to understand that these buildings are lucrative investments at the moment in Minneapolis, and why. In 2016 all of us are drowning in a cultural tsunami of fetishized urban visual aesthetics and lifestyle branding. That's fine, sustainability is great, OK. Meanwhile, anyone who has biked alongside Elan Uptown can very easily identify the amount of wealth that these simulacra of "urban design" can attract. Who could contest that? But the question is whether these buildings are really even delivering what they promise vis-à-vis our changing cultural preferences.
Archiapolis wrote:I'll get back to the units in a minute but you clearly don't understand what are driving these projects:
1. Location - neighborhood amenities (restaurants, night life, biking trails, rivers, creeks, cafes, etc)
2. Amenities - pools, pool decks, lawn bowling, fitness rooms, yoga, "private" coffee shops, concierge service, bike maintenance areas, dog runs
3. "Common space" within units - "open plan" living/kitchen/dining
4-56. Others
57. Bedrooms
This is exactly my point. Again, it is painfully obvious that windows in bedrooms are low on the list of priorities for the people who are interested in these buildings right now! A great deal of people, however, have no interest in these buildings at present, nor do they have any interest in the simulacra of "restaurants", "night life" and "cafés" that are being aggressively marketed to potential tenants and buyers. Personally I much prefer the cafes and nightlife of Powderhorn, Seward and Cedar-Riverside, and yet for some very interesting reasons (to be discussed elsewhere) these neighborhoods have not (yet) provoked massive investment by the capital forces that are driving construction in Uptown and elsewhere.

Regardless of the building materials, much of the simulated "urban" lifestyle being marketed in many of these developments is flimsy and weak, liable to fall apart as soon as the tenants and buyers realize they are not getting the real thing, despite paying more for it. And then they will also notice that their bedrooms don't even have windows, while lower-income people in South and North are living in luscious green neighborhoods in natural-light filled apartment complexes.
FISHMANPET wrote:You know what's the most annoying thing about so called "progressive" housing advocates? How they've decided to decree exactly how other people should live, usually prescribing their middle class standards, rather than letting people actually choose something that meets their own needs.
I'm absolutely 100% fully aware that the aesthetic sensibilities I described above reflect a pickiness that can only come with privilege and upward mobility. Again, this is exactly my point. The problem isn't that I personally want to dictate that all of Minneapolis live this way. My argument is that in the coming decades, it seems outrageously obvious to me that the wealthy middle class will start to wonder why they sleep in windowless bedrooms in pastiches of urban-style buildings occupying every square inch of a lot, when they could have more windows and green space while still living in high-density city.

This is not a radical or lunatic prediction. Streets.mn writers promoting smaller-scale "missing middle" construction are channeling this turn away from faux-urban warehouses à la Uptown, and developers are already taking note, as in 2008 Bryant and 1900 Colfax. Yes, there are financial barriers to that scale of construction, but my argument is that these are so obviously a better and more solid long-term investment, that as soon as a few developers can make it work, very few people with disposable incomes are going to prefer to live in a windowless bedroom when they don't have to.

The "progressive housing advocate" position doesn't even appear until we start to look at the consequences of this. Once large faux-urban warehouses go out of style amongst the upwardly mobile populations that drive the real estate market, the "market-rate/luxury construction mitigates displacement" argument will evaporate as the young middle class moves out of Lime Apartments and into renovated quadplexes in Phillips en masse.
Archiapolis wrote:I've been in countless meetings with development teams and I've heard it dozens of times, "There are only two things going on in bedrooms and they tend to happen in the dark."
TL;DR: I would never invest in a development team who don't account for humankind's preference for lovemaking next to an open window on a gorgeous afternoon, and it boggles my mind that anyone would. The magnitude of dubious corner-cutting this represents is colossal. But once that bubble bursts, it will be poor and vulnerable populations who take the brunt of it. Dang
Last edited by beige_box on April 25th, 2016, 11:59 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby Mcgizz » April 25th, 2016, 11:51 am

EOst wrote:But you're right, the rest of the post is fine. So, sorry Archiapolis: not the most vitriolic, just deeply condescending.
Wow, I think your self righteous crusade of demeaning and belittling other posters on this site is beyond overzealous.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby David Greene » April 25th, 2016, 12:02 pm

EOst wrote:Because that's just condescending something-or-other.
FWIW, I had the same reaction.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby FISHMANPET » April 25th, 2016, 12:10 pm

Terrible ideas deserve condescension. This isn't some bullshit "the right answer is in the middle" nonsense. If someone like biege_box is going to come here and spew nonsense, it deserves to be put down for what it is: nonsense. We don't need to walk around it with kid gloves, we're all adults here.

I could try and rebut that pile o' nonsense, but I'll just say this.

Wyatt, capitalism exists. If you argue hard enough it won't suddenly disappear. It will still be there. Maybe that's not an ideal situation, and maybe it should change, and maybe it can change, but it's the current reality. So you can work within that system, to either make it work for your goals or to change it to better meet your goals, or you can stand on the outside throwing rocks saying how much better your ideas are, without having to critically examine the current state of affairs or why people currently act the way they do.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby David Greene » April 25th, 2016, 12:10 pm

beige_box wrote:as the young middle class moves out of Lime Apartments and into renovated quadplexes in Phillips en masse.
That statement is more than a little ridiculous. For one thing, those renovated quadplexes can't accommodate the number of people who live in the big apartment buildings. So most of the people just can't fit.

Beyond that, the lakes are an ENORMOUS draw.

I understand your preferences and I share them too. I'd rather have windows and fresh air. But to suggest that the area is just going to be abandoned by the upper middle-class is ludicrous. It has always been an area of wealth, if not in the immediate vicinity of the Greenway, then certainly less than a mile away.

I do believe Phillips/Powderhorn are on the verge of a resurgence but it's not like a large number of people are just going to up and move from Uptown to Phillips.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby Archiapolis » April 25th, 2016, 12:16 pm

EOst wrote:I stopped reading after the first two paragraphs were full of this:
Archiapolis wrote:Putting your own desires and opinions aside, the EVIDENCE (built projects) is clear
Archiapolis wrote: Do you realize
Archiapolis wrote:Do you understand
Archiapolis wrote: you clearly don't understand
Because that's just condescending something-or-other.

But you're right, the rest of the post is fine. So, sorry Archiapolis: not the most vitriolic, just deeply condescending in the first part.
I emphasized "EVIDENCE" to place importance on subjective analysis. By definition, subjectivity means "putting [your] own desires and opinions aside." e.g. I personally wouldn't want to rent a "one bedroom" without a window but "the market" doesn't seem to agree with me.

"Do you realize..." was a question. Feel free to respond with an answer if you like.

"Do you understand..." was also a question. See above.

"...you clearly don't understand..." was a response to what you wrote, nothing more. You placed a great amount of emphasis on the viability of large[ish] MFH projects with the opinion that interior one bedrooms are a "massive liability." I refuted the claim. You offered rather strong opinions without equivocation and even went so far as to claim that owners would burn their own buildings down in the future. I didn't see much support for this (or other) claims that you made, specifically the lack of viability of interior one bedroom units. It appeared that you didn't understand what makes interior one bedrooms in large[ish] MFH projects viable so I tried to illustrate why they are indeed viable. I didn't personally insult your haircut or your favorite band. My haircut and my favorite music are kind of terrible actually.

I certainly don't know everything there is to know about multi family housing but I have some experience. I've laid out a case for a few things on a forum site dedicated to urbanism which can certainly be refuted/supported/liked/hated/etc. These conversations should be fun and rhetorical. I'm sorry that you feel condescended to but offering strong opinions can elicit strong responses.

Feel free to have the last word if you like.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby beige_box » April 25th, 2016, 12:23 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:Terrible ideas deserve condescension. This isn't some bullshit "the right answer is in the middle" nonsense. If someone like biege_box is going to come here and spew nonsense, it deserves to be put down for what it is: nonsense. We don't need to walk around it with kid gloves, we're all adults here.

I could try and rebut that pile o' nonsense, but I'll just say this.

Wyatt, capitalism exists. If you argue hard enough it won't suddenly disappear. It will still be there. Maybe that's not an ideal situation, and maybe it should change, and maybe it can change, but it's the current reality. So you can work within that system, to either make it work for your goals or to change it to better meet your goals, or you can stand on the outside throwing rocks saying how much better your ideas are, without having to critically examine the current state of affairs or why people currently act the way they do.
"Critically examining the current state of affairs", and "why people currently act the way they do", is what I am trying to do here. I have been doing my best to make my written arguments in this thread based in reasoning and not in vitriol or pathos. I wish you could do the same. If doxxing me is what you prefer, go head, I'm not ashamed of my position, but I do believe such a new low reflects more on your insecurity in your position than any genuine belief in purging "terrible ideas" or whatever you just wrote in the heat of anger.

I do not understand why are you are so personally enraged at me here. To be honest in this conversation I feel I am articulating thoughts expressed by many writers here, about the "missing middle", and extending them to a critique of present-day real estate investments.
David Greene wrote:But to suggest that the area is just going to be abandoned by the upper middle-class is ludicrous.
Not the whole area, just the large faux-urban warehouses that have been built in the past 15-odd years. At that point there will be a far greater demand than supply, and the mobile middle class will push east. It's already happening, by the way.
Last edited by beige_box on April 25th, 2016, 12:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 25th, 2016, 12:27 pm

beige_box wrote:TL;DR: I would never invest in a development team who don't account for humankind's preference for lovemaking next to an open window on a gorgeous afternoon, and it boggles my mind that anyone would. The magnitude of dubious corner-cutting this represents is colossal. But once that bubble bursts, it will be poor and vulnerable populations who take the brunt of it. Dang
So, am I to take your whole screed against windowless bedrooms as a point of "the poor will be forced into making love in the dark?" I sympathize with your arguments, but even if it's true that upwardly mobile people will abandon these units leaving them exclusively to the poor (I'm skeptical) it doesn't seem to be one that really impacts a person's emotional or monetary well-being the way that many, many other policies could address. I had to chuckle at the notion that these are inherently unsustainable because 3x a year during a power outage ventilation will be limited. Okay. Are windowless bedrooms bad because they drive up energy use because people will be more likely to use AC? Potentially, yeah (though I see a ton of really inefficient window AC units in older buildings as well). Do they represent a health risk because there's only one egress point? Potentially, though I guess we should be challenging fire code that allows them with sprinkler systems.

On the whole, my argument about windows (which, was a very minor point in a larger one about building quality/failures relating to modern designs and efficiencies) applied as much to single family homes as it did to apartments. I didn't expect it to spawn this whole thing about the exact design of unit layouts, more to the nature of buildings on the whole.

I personally don't think "missing middle" is trying to address the lack of humanity in 6-stick style apartments. Sure, an outcome of smaller, single- or double-lot development *might* be that buildings are structured in a way to allow for better unit layouts. But the primary goal is to allow development as less cost per square foot or cost per unit owing to flexibility in lot assemblage, avoiding structured parking, and avoiding some of the codes that address equity (like elevators making all units ADA-accessible, etc) - making day 1 rents lower than our current options. Tangentially, it's been co-opted a bit to show that housing can be built at scales that don't offend neighbors (which, IMO, fails in most cases as people generally don't like even the smallest change next door). But I don't think most people advocating for MM housing have a major problem with how much of the apartment buildings have taken shape over the past decade. We *could* be demanding larger buildings have different designs, more like older courtyard apartment blocks in Europe or even Japanese-style towers. There's a nice discussion of the design tradeoffs here, and they ultimately do come with real costs, which is something to consider. In the end, there really isn't one True Way to go about building our cities.

Anyway, this is all good stuff that deserves to be logged in the Library of Congress and everything, but it should maybe be moved to the Economics of Housing thread.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby beige_box » April 25th, 2016, 12:54 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:So, am I to take your whole screed against windowless bedrooms as a point of "the poor will be forced into making love in the dark?" I sympathize with your arguments, but even if it's true that upwardly mobile people will abandon these units leaving them exclusively to the poor (I'm skeptical) it doesn't seem to be one that really impacts a person's emotional or monetary well-being the way that many, many other policies could address. I had to chuckle at the notion that these are inherently unsustainable because 3x a year during a power outage ventilation will be limited. Okay. Are windowless bedrooms bad because they drive up energy use because people will be more likely to use AC? Potentially, yeah (though I see a ton of really inefficient window AC units in older buildings as well). Do they represent a health risk because there's only one egress point? Potentially, though I guess we should be challenging fire code that allows them with sprinkler systems.
I am happy to leave the argument here. Yes, my argument boils down to predicting that the poor will be forced into large, uncomfortably designed buildings. Much of the "natural affordability" argument made by market urbanists basically makes similar predictions. Yes, there are other ways to address poverty besides putting windows in their bedrooms. But I predict that this scenario would have bigger consequences than just the window and represent a step backwards for the social mobility, stability and quality of life of the urban poor.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby amiller92 » April 25th, 2016, 1:04 pm

beige_box wrote:Not the whole area, just the large faux-urban warehouses that have been built in the past 15-odd years.
Don't you think the fact that these things continue to be built 15 years into this kind of undermines your argument?
At that point there will be a far greater demand than supply, and the mobile middle class will push east. It's already happening, by the way.
It's happening, and will continue to happen, but (1) I don't think it has anything to do with over supply of "faux-urban warehouses," in part because those don't seem to be going vacant, and (2) if it's happening now, while these things are still being built, doesn't that rather undermine your argument as well?

It's difficult for lower-priced neighborhoods adjacent to more expensive ones not to "gentrify" but it has nothing to do with people fleeing the more expensive neighborhood.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby amiller92 » April 25th, 2016, 1:17 pm

beige_box wrote:Yes, my argument boils down to predicting that the poor will be forced into large, uncomfortably designed buildings.
You mean like the Riverside Plaza? Or the Horn Towers?

The new construction we're talking about isn't really anything on the scale of the towers of the 60s-70s. It's also decades away from being likely to house the poor, if it ever gets there, and the abundance of nearby amenities suggests it probably won't.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 25th, 2016, 1:24 pm

Like I said, I very much sympathize with your overall message, but the details become difficult to understand. If you're using windows as a symptom of a much larger problem of building quality and how that affects the quality of life and social mobility of the future urban poor, you should just say that and back it up with something. Maybe an article like this that anecdotally highlights how construction 50 years ago struggles to stay above a minimum threshold of health and safety for lower-income renters due to a range of reasons including crappy landlords, economics, and original build quality and construction techniques. Though I will note, most of those small 60s walkups, which most Minneapolis residents would describe as cheap and undesirable, have bedrooms in their windows. But also, it'd be good to have some data on what % of all those units do meet or exceed health/safety minimums, how they did it, etc etc. And while we're talking about it, we should have the conversation about what really makes for minimum acceptable livability, since there are millions of American families who couldn't fathom the idea of living in an 850 square foot 1BR apartment in Minneapolis but many who make do and live a happy, fulfilling life. There are similarly millions of single Americans who can't fathom the idea of an apartment without its own kitchen and/or bathroom and less than 500 square feet of space, but there exist many people willing to make that tradeoff if it saves them money, convenience, or time.

Your argument seems to be less "let's build missing middle housing in large quantities and in many parts of the city and also not just in secluded areas of certain neighborhoods where zoning allows" and more "build lots of quality public housing." Primarily, it seems you're worried that the dumping of all these similarly-designed-and-built apartments will all collectively depreciate around the same time, leading to lots of issues, and that if only we were investing more public money in well-built housing that could be avoided. I'm very sure most on this thread will stand right there with you advocating for more public funding for housing. I'm less sure we can get the outcomes you desire simply be doing that. Public and non-profit housing has a long history in this country of having worse design than private market housing, and quality construction materials/techniques mean little with improper maintenance and upkeep funding, which has also proven tough to dedicate in the past (especially when large numbers of units are constructed in a short window then hit 30-40 year major renovation needs all at once, as you seem to be advocating for). If you want to say that other countries like Austria or Singapore have shown a way to do things, great, I agree, and we can work toward reforming the public side of the market and be nice to each other about it. For the same reasons you want people to have respectful conversation with you about those things (if I'm right about your goals and pragmatic ways to achieve them), I guess it'd be nice if that respect were reciprocated when people talk in earnest about building things like transit tunnels more cost effectively using techniques mastered in other countries to help make the lives of people who depend on buses or trains meaningfully better.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby beige_box » April 25th, 2016, 1:37 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:Like I said, I very much sympathize with your overall message, but the details become difficult to understand. If you're using windows as a symptom of a much larger problem of building quality and how that affects the quality of life and social mobility of the future urban poor, you should just say that and back it up with something. Maybe an article like this that anecdotally highlights how construction 50 years ago struggles to stay above a minimum threshold of health and safety for lower-income renters due to a range of reasons including crappy landlords, economics, and original build quality and construction techniques. Though I will note, most of those small 60s walkups, which most Minneapolis residents would describe as cheap and undesirable, have bedrooms in their windows. But also, it'd be good to have some data on what % of all those units do meet or exceed health/safety minimums, how they did it, etc etc. And while we're talking about it, we should have the conversation about what really makes for minimum acceptable livability, since there are millions of American families who couldn't fathom the idea of living in an 850 square foot 1BR apartment in Minneapolis but many who make do and live a happy, fulfilling life. There are similarly millions of single Americans who can't fathom the idea of an apartment without its own kitchen and/or bathroom and less than 500 square feet of space, but there exist many people willing to make that tradeoff if it saves them money, convenience, or time.

Your argument seems to be less "let's build missing middle housing in large quantities and in many parts of the city and also not just in secluded areas of certain neighborhoods where zoning allows" and more "build lots of quality public housing." Primarily, it seems you're worried that the dumping of all these similarly-designed-and-built apartments will all collectively depreciate around the same time, leading to lots of issues, and that if only we were investing more public money in well-built housing that could be avoided. I'm very sure most on this thread will stand right there with you advocating for more public funding for housing. I'm less sure we can get the outcomes you desire simply be doing that. Public and non-profit housing has a long history in this country of having worse design than private market housing, and quality construction materials/techniques mean little with improper maintenance and upkeep funding, which has also proven tough to dedicate in the past (especially when large numbers of units are constructed in a short window then hit 30-40 year major renovation needs all at once, as you seem to be advocating for). If you want to say that other countries like Austria or Singapore have shown a way to do things, great, I agree, and we can work toward reforming the public side of the market and be nice to each other about it. For the same reasons you want people to have respectful conversation with you about those things (if I'm right about your goals and pragmatic ways to achieve them), I guess it'd be nice if that respect were reciprocated when people talk in earnest about building things like transit tunnels more cost effectively using techniques mastered in other countries to help make the lives of people who depend on buses or trains meaningfully better.
Thank you, that is a fair assessment of my position and a thoughtful critique of it. I will ruminate accordingly, suffice to say that I do not believe many of the people here who you say share my views on public housing funding do so in good faith.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby David Greene » April 25th, 2016, 1:59 pm

Archiapolis wrote:You placed a great amount of emphasis on the viability of large[ish] MFH projects with the opinion that interior one bedrooms are a "massive liability." I refuted the claim. You offered rather strong opinions without equivocation and even went so far as to claim that owners would burn their own buildings down in the future.
EOst didn't write any of that.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby beige_box » April 25th, 2016, 2:11 pm

To clarify, they might not burn down their own buildings; more like they would simply have them demolished through legal means and replaced by new apartments again, thereby negating the natural affordability argument.

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Re: West Calhoun Apartments - (3118 Lake Street W)

Postby FISHMANPET » April 25th, 2016, 2:49 pm

I would say that "something bad may potentially happen in the future" is a bad reason to not doing anything, especially when the bad thing you propose is highly unlikely, and even if it were to happen, it still represents a better situation than "do nothing."

The places where these buildings being built are in high demand. People want to live there. They will live in new expensive apartments or they will displace existing residents in older more affordable existing housing. If we did nothing, those people would still try and live in these places. They would be accommodated by existing landlords doing cheap renovations and pocketing the huge rent increases. Or we can have the most radical anti-capitalist position possible, and soak these rich people for every penny they've got, in the hopes that the money ends up back into the banking system to help the existing community (though I'll be the first to admit this is currently not likely).

Your position seems to be that we should be building public housing instead of market rate housing, but the only reasoning I can see for that is that you don't like the kinds of buildings and the kinds of people that live in those buildings. But it's not like any of these projects were competing with public housing for sites. There isn't money for a massive investment in public housing right now. End of story. Maybe there should be (though I would say the best time would be in a dip in the economy when construction becomes much cheaper, construction costs are insane right now). But there's not. So you're presenting a false choice. You act like you're offering the choice of public housing for low income people vs luxury housing for the rich. But what you're actually offering is building more housing, or sticking your fingers in your ears screaming "la la la I can't hear you" and ignoring all the evidence that not building housing will not solve any problems.

Given your two actual choices, I know which one I'll pick every single time.


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