.


« 609 Sherman-please enjoy our walls | Main | Bellerive...shhhh...it's sleeping »

Comments

Dazzeetrader

I talked to Monte Miller last Summer. Asked him how he could get away with this in a small town. He said the first 15 floors sold out in 1 month....so he added another bunch of floors. City encouraged him. The first building sold out in 1 month too and it opened the door for the present building.
So I circled back and asked him his secret. Was it the lake? or something the bigger city to the West was missing?? As it turned out, some of the McKuen was bought by Spokane people, some from CA, some locals and some from the East (NJites). He and Stauffer had no resistance from local concerns (who might interfere) and the City itself supported the project.
So what gives in Spokane? Seems like there's little support as project after project goes by the wayside. Spokane's own John Stone has a very nice project called Riverstone (I think). Seems there was no interference and he had support from the City. And when I left, I was told there was more projects to come. SO it goes.....

Kate

But... is it a good project?

Really good?

Maybe I've just got an irrational bias against high-rises, but how does the tower correspond with the street? What kind of right do a bunch of condos have to CDA's skyline? Especially since the point here seems to be the hope that "people will live there more than 2 or 3 months a year". Who is it for?

What does it really mean that Spokane seems to be finicky about building high-rise condos and CDA isn't?

Sorry that I'm being so persistent about this, but the context for these tower projects just eludes me somewhat.

Contrarian

Er, Kate, condos don't have "rights to the skyline." The only rights involved here are those of the owners of the property, to do with it what they wish (provided no one else is injured). In communities where that right is respected, things happen; in those where it isn't, they don't.

As to "who it is for," it is none of my business, nor of yours.

Kate

Contrarian, those are all good points. But let me put it this way: Imagine that we were watching the Oscars together on Sunday, and somebody strolled down the red carpet in a tuxedo that was exactly the same color orange as the Parkside Condos. A very expensive designer tuxedo.

Imagine that I turned to you and said, "But is that a good tuxedo? Why is he wearing that? It clashes with his date's dress AND the carpet, and it looks really silly. Why would his stylists let him wear that, and why on earth would he pick it out anyway?"

Now your answer might well be, "It doesn't matter how his outfit goes with the carpet or that girl's dress, and I think it's actually good that his stylist didn't stop him from wearing it. It's entirely within his rights to wear that tuxedo, and it is none of my business, nor of yours."

Here's what I would say to that: Everyone's a critic. Criticism gets your brain working and it is fun. Of course none of this is our business, but here we are talking about it.

It can also - like right now - just be a way to get some questions answered. Believe me, I know that the people who built those condos were well within their rights to do so. That's good and it's the way it should be.

But here's the thing, buildings are political and their futures are made and broken in the political arena. As Dazzeetrader has made clear in his post, this project was built because there were people who approved of and encouraged it. Lots of them apparently. Somebody in the city looked at that rendering and not only approved of it, they decided to let the developer add more height! That is a political and an aesthetic decision, no matter what.

Which is where we show up and yammer about the building as critics. According to my personal and professional biases and the fact that I've spent four years in a town where nothing in the inner city is allowed to be built higher than the highest church tower - gotta preserve that historical skyline - design-wise, that building is a big "HUH?" So I'm asking, what about it did the entire city of CDA, according to Dazzeetrader, like enough to approve of it and to allow the developer to add height to it? And for that matter what were the developer and his architect thinking?

It would be interesting to find out, because the idea of "enormous condo tower = high quality project for Inland Northwest city" has come up twice since I've been reading this blog. This is my attempt to figure out, from a design perspective, why?

As for "who it is for", don't you think it's kind of fascinating that a town would have a tall, dominant apartment building that's apparently full of vacation homes?

No? There's no reason to care?

Then it's too bad this blog discusses such boring subjects, huh.

MK

No, it's not a good building. It's not a benefit to have a "vacation" tower in the middle of your downtown. CDA's downtown is not a real downtown, it's a tourist trap for rich middle aged white people and it's boring to visit.

The lake is beautiful and that's why people go there. Thats why towers get built there whether Monte Miller knows it or not (I imagine he does).

I will take a dense city full of three story buildings (that are full of people year-round) over high-rises any day.

METROSPOKANE

There's a strong correlation between this project and the Upper Falls condos - both are heavy on the amenities/exclusiveness side of things. River and lake views, the chance to be above everything, proximity to public lands, and high end finishes meant both projects sold out quick. Some demographics of both would be interesting to see.

Andrew Waddilove

I like the Parkside Tower.
The tower reminds me of something you would see in Seattle, Portland, or now even in Austin.
It's cool that a smaller town like Coeur d'Alene can think big.
I applaud CDA's motivation, and I hope it continues into the future.

Contrarian

You're right that everyone's a critic, Kate, and there is nothing wrong with that. That is simply free speech. The problems arise when people begin to believe their opinions regarding others' choices and preferences are more than mere opinions; that they have, or should have, the force of law, which those others have a duty to heed.

And that is what happens in most cities in the post-Constitutional era. Most cities have bought into the asinine notion that land uses can be planned by enlightened bureaucrats; they adopt Comprehensive Plans to which all development in the community must conform. If a proposed project does not conform, then the proposer must beg for a waiver or variance of some kind. That requires public hearings, which has the effect of transforming those opinions, no matter how presumptuous or ill-informed, into law.

The problem is not with the opinions per se; it is with creating legal mechanisms which permit those opinions to delay or derail the owners' desires for the use of his property, or force them to modify their projects to mollify the critics.

"But here's the thing, buildings are political and their futures are made and broken in the political arena."

They certainly are these days. What you do with your property, as long as you're not doing anything on it to injure me, is no more my business than what color shoes you choose to wear today. What was once a personal choice is now, as you say, a political one.

What amuses me is that most ardent devotees of land use planning are also vocal advocates of historic preservation. It's amusing because the buildings they admire and wish to preserve were all built when there were no such things as professional planners or Comprehensive Plans. The only people the owners had to consult before proceeding with their visions -- often eclectic if not radical -- were their architects and bankers. We think that legacy is great, and want to preserve it. But we don't want to let it happen today. Instead, we prefer camels (horses designed by a committee).

"As for "who it is for", don't you think it's kind of fascinating that a town would have a tall, dominant apartment building that's apparently full of vacation homes?

"No? There's no reason to care?"

Nope. None whatsoever. Is is still a free country, or not? If someone wants a vacation home in CDA, he ought to be able to have one, as long as someone is willing to build or sell him one. The opinions of third parties are irrelevant; they are presumptuous and should have no force whatsoever.

Dazzeetrader

1. Note to Kate: Dazzee is a "she".
2. Contrarian is oh so insightful....and likely correct. All those old "classic" buildings people fawn over were built before the "people" had a say-so in anything. Developers had ideas (whether for business/pleasure/churches). Seems like things turnout ok considering who the current generation seems to adore those older buildings.
Nowadays, cities control what's built. Theorhetically, the public control what the city approves. All the while the developer spends his or her own money and puts risk on the line. Should city councils or neighborhoods or political forces be controlling risk when they have no money in the projects? Maybe market forces should have more to say than they do currently.

Kate, if someone wants to live in a building for 2 to 3 months/year, should it be anyone's concern? Should anyone even care? Should it even matter? SHould it be a political football? Listen if someone wants to live somewhere 3 months'year in 4 different locations, what gives anyone the right to chirp away?

Does the public control air space? No. Are there "air easements"? A few but hardly any. Can someone purchase them? If there aren't any, how could you purchase one??? It's possible in rare circumstances I suppose.

Contrarian bring up a great ( not just good) point. Why are 3rd parties trying to get in the mix? Some even trying to defeat projects? Isn't it seriously a bit overbearing? Legalities aside......?


METROSPOKANE

"What amuses me is that most ardent devotees of land use planning are also vocal advocates of historic preservation. It's amusing because the buildings they admire and wish to preserve were all built when there were no such things as professional planners or Comprehensive Plans."

As long as there have been cities, contrarian, there has been planning. When James Glover decided to put down a mill next to the river, he was planning. When Washington hired L'Enfant to design DC he was planning. That road you drove home on tonight is there because of planning. Planning drives our capital investments as a municipality via a public process. (Such a process is going on right now for the downtown plan. Have you participated?) Regulations are adopted and in place via a public process not 'enlightened bureaucrats' conspiring in a back room. Remember this too that those nasty land use regulations that you so abhor also work to protect the value of property. It goes both ways.

And as for the projects in CDA how do you feel that the 609 lofts and Parkside together received over $1million in tax dollars for things like water sculptures, sidewalk improvements, facade improvements, etc. Given that, it seems fair that the public has some say in the projects' aesthetics...hmmm?

Our major rant is with those projects that absolutely diminish the public realm and right of way. Where we may agree is that less regulations can be better in terms of zoning. Generally speaking it's not the use we're as concerned with as the site plan. The same thing goes for design details of the exterior.

Kate

What our dear host METROSPOKANE said.

Cities need some planning, contrarian, and they always have. As cities get bigger and denser, they will start to feel the crunch of conflicts over land use more and more. Situations will arise in which the government needs to step in and protect the public interest.

Of course comprehensive plans have always existed in the US. The first thing William Penn did when he founded Philadelphia was come up with a guiding vision - a city as green and expansive as an English country town - and draw up a grid he felt would help encourage people to build that vision. If he had had the legal framework of instruments we use to influence land use today, surely he would have used them to make his planning more effective.

The boogeyman of "Comprehensive Planning" by enlightened bureaucrats is also an outmoded one. The regulatory process is getting less, not more technocratic as planners get better at helping citizens participate in decision processes. If that's what you mean by "public hearings, which have the effect of transforming those opinions, no matter how presumptuous or ill-informed, into law" - well, it is a free country, and transforming public opinions into law is sort of how our democracy is supposed to work.

Dazzee, sorry about the gender confusion! But I beg to differ on classic buildings being some purer kind of design expression than the ones that are built today. The vast majority of buildings that are candidates for historic preservation really aren't much more than an expression of architectural norms and fashions for the time they were built. That makes them very pretty, but most aren't iconoclastic. Perhaps in a few decades, preservationists will be trying to save the Parkside!

By the way, I really wasn't trying to condemn the vacationers who may or may not be living in the Parkside. When I said it's interesting that a condo development like that seems to appeal to part-time residents, what I meant is that it's *interesting*. As in I'd like to see some data on that.

Contrarian

Metro --

"As long as there have been cities, contrarian, there has been planning. When James Glover decided to put down a mill next to the river, he was planning . . ."

You left out a couple of important qualifiers there. I said, "professional planners," and "Comprehensive Plans." The latter is a plan adopted by a local government which purports to dictate the types of developments allowed within its juridiction, and where they may be located. It has the force of law.

Certainly everyone who undertakes any project of any complexity develops a plan first. Developers of subdivisions prepare site plans; architects develop building plans. A pioneer (such as Mr. Glover) creating a town site prepares a plat.

Such plans have indeed always existed. But there is a big difference between such plans and the Comprehensive Plans I mentioned. The latter are plans prepared by third parties (usually professional urban planners) for governing the uses of *other people's property*; they are not, like the former, plans prepared by the owners of the property for their own projects.

The only cities which developed historically in accordance with any kind of pre-existing plan (other than the original town plat), were "special" cities, such as capital cities, ordered constructed by some monarch or other government authority (e.g., Washington, DC, or Brasilia). Ordinary cities are organic entities, which grow and develop in response to the conditions and exigencies of the moment, just as a colony of coral or a conifer forest.

The inhabitants of cities are autonomous actors, just as the trees in a forest and the individual coral animals; each acts independently of the rest, although the past actions of others constrain the options open to current actors (I may change my mind about opening a restaurant on a certain corner if someone else opens one across the street).

One cannot "master plan" cities, for the same reasons the Soviets could not master plan the production of wheat or steel. Economies are complex adaptive systems (CAS's), whose dynamics are in principle unpredictable. Since they are unpredictable, they cannot be effectively planned. Those plans, when enforced by law, invariably result in surpluses of unwanted commodities and shortages of goods in demand.

Most urban plans are developed by planning professionals; it is a "public process" only in form, not in substance --- simply because few members of the public have the information or expertise to participate effectively (not to mention the time or interest). The only members of the public on an equal footing with the professional planners, and who stand any chance of effecting the outcome, are the hired guns of the interest groups likely to be effected economically by the plans under discussion.

All attempts to plan an economy, or any segment of it, such as uses of land, are exercises in futility. If the plan does not track the demands of the market (which it seldom will, since markets, like weather, are unpredictable except in the very short term), the market will find ways to circumvent it. Devising those workarounds adds delays and costs to the project, and more often than not yields outcomes less desirable than those the plans sought to prevent (the "law of unintended consequences.")

You can probably guess my view as to the propriety of public subsidies, or "incentives," for private projects. Those are of course common correlates of public land use planning. When the market fails to produce the developments contemplated in the Plan, as it usually will, then the planners hold forth subsidies financed with taxpayers' money.

The entire process is a huge burden on local economies.

Contrarian

Kate --

"Cities need some planning, contrarian, and they always have. As cities get bigger and denser, they will start to feel the crunch of conflicts over land use more and more. Situations will arise in which the government needs to step in and protect the public interest."

There is indeed a potential for conflicts involving land uses in urban settings. The possibility of such conflicts has existed since the advent of cities 10,000 or so years ago. The traditional, common law method of resolving those conflicts was the Law of Nuisance, based on the principle, "'sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas" (don't use your property in ways that injure others in their use of theirs).

Zoning laws based on that principle are reasonable and defensible. Zoning laws enacted to enforce various popular prejudices (e.g., homeowners vs. renters), or denying a zone change because the project might attract "upscale" buyers (thus making the neighbors feel "downscale"), don't cut the mustard. Such arguments would never fly in a nuisance lawsuit.

Perhaps you can explain to me what the "public interest" is. When I observe a community and converse with its members, the only interests I ever encounter are private ones --- the interests of particular individuals, as revealed by their words and actions. I have no idea where to look for this "public interest." The "public interest" seems to be a fiction invoked whenever Tom wants Dick and Harry to do something that is in his (Tom's) interest, but is unable or unwilling to offer Dick and Harry any rational reason or incentive for so acting.

Maybe you can help me out here.

Jim

Excuse us Kate and Contro..

The fact is that this is a great looking building, regardless of who the occupants are. It smacks of community vitality and progress. What's it been, 25 years since the last quality highrise was built in Spokane - Bank of America Tower? No comment on the windowless wonder across from the Dav. Then there's the gray concrete wonder on the Boulevard. What a sign of vitality for visitors of the convention center to feast their eyes upon! Okay, back to sleep in Spokane.

Leio

Contrarian-

Maybe I'm missing something here. You seem to defend zoning and general city planning, yet be supporting projects like the Manito condominiums which was clearly in violation of zoning laws. Even by applying the "Law of Nuisance" principle, the project would still be controversial as it would probably degrade some homeowners property values by blocking park views. In addition if many such projects were approved on a piecemeal basis, congestion on the city streets would certainly increase and degrade quality of life.

The comments to this entry are closed.

feeds

proud sponsors

photo pool

  • www.flickr.com
    photos in Metrospokane Visit & contribute to the Metrospokane photo-pool