Yesterday afternoon I attended the monthly Preservation Board Meeting at City Hall West to find out the latest updates on proposed development in Shaw.
The development centers on the 4100 bock of De Tonty in the Shaw Neighborhood and was proposed by local design firm UIC.
Currently the block is completely vacant and there are no competing development plans for this area.
A little background on the issue:
The Shaw Neighborhood became a Certified Local Historic District in 1985 requiring any rehabilitation or new construction would have to confirm to the historic standards of the neighborhood.
UIC has proposed to develop the site with modern designed homes using modern materials which would require the Preservation Board to authorize a variance from the historic standards of the neighborhood.
Background on the lot:
During the meeting one of the speakers in favor of this development was the alderman Stephen Conway. He spoke to board about the 2-3 previous development projects that fell through due to bankruptcy (Millennium) or the inability to secure financing over the last 10 years. Conway seemed excited to get this project started as it would be an improvement to the vacant lot that is there currently.
Pro-Variance: The alderman of the ward as well as a few residents were in favor of the proposed design by UIC as a means to redevelop a vacant lot. While no one besides the representaive from UIC (Brent Crittenden) seemed very keen on the look of the white siding in contrast to the brick facade facing Detonty, they all seemed to agree it was an improvement on what was there. One neighborhood resident even mentioned a recent article by nextSTL that was in favor granting a variance for the design as it was on the border of the neighborhood and would not affect the historic standards help within the core of the neighborhood. Alderperson Marlene Davis of the neighboring 19th ward also spoke in favor of granting the variance along with calling for a re-evaluation of neighborhood historic standards as they relate to prohibiting development and rehabilitation growth.
Anti-Variance: Various members of the neighborhood and Shaw Improvement Association were in opposition to the current design (not development of the lot) as it did not appear to be (and by all practical purposes is not) in line with the current historic standards of Shaw.
Outcome: The Preservation Board granted a rare exception to the Shaw Historic District Standards and issued a preliminary approval to UIC’s current designs for this development.