Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Destruction Delayed

The 2 buildings are on the west side of Kendrick Park

Despite the prominence of the two local developers involved (Curt Shumway and Barry Roberts) and that of their architect (John Kuhn) and legal counsel (Tom Reidy) the Amherst Historical Commission voted unanimously not to allow the vaporization of two buildings in the north end of downtown that have stood in that location for over 150 years.

 John Kuhn, Barry Roberts, Curt Shuway (seated) attorney Tom Reidy (standing)

The main reason being, after 150+ years, they add a texture and feel to the neighborhood that would be forever altered by their destruction.  And yes, a good number of neighbors turned out to reaffirm that before the Commission.

 Vast majority of audience was in favor of demolition delay

In fact only one person from the audience spoke in favor of the demolition (Niels la Cour) reminding the Commission that Amherst needs commercial development and erecting hurdles via a demo delay only exaserbates the town's anti-business reputation.

Sarah la Cour also submitted a letter on Business Improvement District stationary supporting the demolition.  Barry Roberts was of course one of the main architects of creating the BID.

Click to enlarge/read

The developers wish to build a four-story 20,000 square foot office building with possible retail on the ground floor.   But not a bar or restaurant, Mr. Kuhn assured the Commission. 

The area is zoned limited business which limits the height to only three floors so even if the Historical Commission allowed the demolition the project must still get a Special Permit from the Planning Board to go up the extra floor.  That motion would require six of the eight members to vote yes.

 Local researcher/historian Ed Wilfert presented his findings to the Commission

Attorney Reidy, after it appeared certain the delay would be enacted, requested perhaps making it only a six-month delay.  But the bylaw only allows for a one year delay,  and it's all-or-nothing.  The Commission can, however, six months down the road lift the delay and allow demolition.

Developers can simply wait out the year and are then free to demolish the buildings or they could try to move them to a new location.  

Back in 2007 Mr. Roberts moved the last remaining house on Kendrick Park to a new location on Gray Street.


Anonymous said...

They pave paradise,and put up a parking lot, you don't know what you got-till it's gone !!!

Anonymous said...

No reason you shouldn't put a new, energy efficient building there.

Anonymous said...

Just wait them out Barry and Curt.

Anonymous said...

Build, baby, build!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joni Mitchell. If it only were Paradise.

Anonymous said...

The Historic Commission has become like "Date Night".

You got Louis+Hilda, of course.

You got Sarah+ Niels both speaking in favor.
Then you got Steve Bloom (on the commission) + his wife Jennifer Taub speaking against the project.Did she disclose her relationship to him, and v.v.?

Bloom is quoted as saying something like:
"These buildings should be saved because I do not like the 2 Archipelago projects across the street". That'll hold up in land court.

Anonymous said...

If the downtown was a historic district this would preserve the look of downtown and stop the new New Jersey office park look that is being built.

Anonymous said...

It always unfortunate and awkward when folks that don't own land can stop someone who does own land from building on it peacefully, regardless of how much they want to plan society in advance.

And to do so without paying the fair market value over time makes this far worse than eminent domain, which as you know, can be used to literally kick you out of your house so it can be replaced by something that will pay higher taxes.

When eminent domain happens, you get paid and it is still very immoral and wrong, when this BS happens, all the owner gets is smugs from the neighbors and their fellow forceful socialists. Just imagine if these kinds of folks got smart enough to convince people of things peacefully vs. using force.

Using government bodies to get your way over someone else and their possessions is just shameful and weak. Their disrespect for the rights of others will eventually come back to bite them as they loose rights they actually care about or the same is done to them.

The disrespect for the concept of ownership in Amherst never seems to end.

Anonymous said...

Interesting about the conflict of interest of Bloom and Taub. Was not aware they are married. Larry, perhaps this needs its own story? Both of them BANANAS of course. And Town Meeting members I believe - and good arguments for a Mayor / Town Council as neither of them is electable beyond the confines of their psycho slum neighborhood (sorry, "precinct").

I'm confident the developers factored in the 1-year delay into their plans. And equally confident if someone offered them the right price they would sell the property to those who wish to "preserve" it.

Office space is at a premium and can't come soon enough.

The historic commission members should be required to pay fair rent for the year out of their own pockets if it's that important to them. See how often they impose it then!!

Anonymous said...

Why do we even have a Historic Commission? The only thing historic about Amherst is the people who move here and try to make it into what they envision. I've seen a lot of changes in sixty years here and saving history never improved anything. Let 'em build you bunch of nosy neighbors. There is nothing wrong with upgrading a piece of property.

Anonymous said...

Building new office and retail space would really add to the down town area. That would mean a boost for local restaurants. Office employees need to eat and shop. So this new building will be an amazing improvement to the down town. One thing that people seem to forget is that you can design a building to look very "classic/historic New England look" that you see in the South part of the down town area and in the down town of Northampton. I hope the historical committee see this and removes the delay.

Hilda Greenbaum said...

It doesn't have to be four stories high when the bylaw allows only three stories. If Kendrick Park had the required setbacks and didn't have the extra height, no one would complain. Of course, New England architecture rather than Portland Oregon styles on the east side of Kendrick Park would make many folks happier.

Don't forget that these two men own much of the land along the west side of North Pleasant St. to UMass Gateway. This building is only the beginning--a foot in the door for totally changing the small-town ambiance that brings tourists here.

Anonymous said...

Hilda you didn't even grow up here. take your "small-town ambiance" and just go away. Change is good for a community. Go move to Sturbridge Village if you want to be quaint.

Anonymous said...

Joel, please stop using your mother's account to post on Larry's blog.

And BTW "Kendrick Park" has only trees, no buildings at all.