What's a neighborhood to do without a good building controversy to keep things interesting? Some CARAG residents certainly seem to follow that train of thought. I'm not criticizing, by the way; I might not agree very often with the Aaron Rubensteins and Howard Versons of the world, but I have as strong opinions as anyone else when it comes to discussing the built environment of Uptown's neighborhoods. The latest controversial project seems to be the proposed building at 3005 Emerson. Developer Clark Gassen and local firm BKV Group envision the site as a restaurant, and some preliminary renderings also show a rooftop deck in the back.
Neighbors are not, as you can imagine, happy. There's a petition going around; I haven't seen it and am not sure what is being protested, but since the site is zoned commercial I can only assume that the neighbors are protesting the requested parking variance (they're asking for only six parking spots, not eight), and probably the roof patio.
I have mixed feelings on this, and can see the pros and the cons. Let's address the negatives first:
Hideous architecture. Yeah, I know not everyone agrees with me; I know some people actually like this, and some people think while it's not exactly beautiful, it's not atrocious, either. I think it's absolutely terrible, and looks like an architecture clip art book vomited up its contents onto the rendering page. It's going to look dated in about a year, and has absolutely zero architectural charm. I know it's subject to change, but that horrible blend of brick coupled with that dark siding (or is it metal sheeting?) on top, plus those weird jutting outcroppings just scream dated-upon-arrival. Please, please, BKV Group, don't make us live with this atrocity in our neighborhood.
Do we really need another restaurant? I love restaurants, and wish I could afford to eat out more often. I don't have a problem with restaurants, necessarily, but enough already. What Uptown really needs is more daytime uses; what about an office, or maybe a medical building? Useful retail space would be okay, too. A daytime-focused use would bring more workers to Uptown during the day, while a restaurant would inevitably contribute to making Uptown and Lyn-Lake even more of an entertainment/nighttime destination. I have no problem with plentiful evening options, including restaurants and bars, but I'd really prefer not to have one on this specific site.
On to the positives:
Filling in the parking lots is a good thing. More businesses closer to housing is a good thing. It's not really a corner store, and it's not in the heart of the residential areas, but I like to have lots of businesses within walking distance. I also am happy to see surface parking lots disappear.
Potential. I hate the building, but admit it could be worse. At least it's not a drive-through credit union or a strip mall-like building with parking in front. Even an ugly building is better than a parking lot. It's also exciting to think about what new business might move in to the location, and hope it's something good.
Some final thoughts:
Parking. This is always a big one. Permit parking is the name of the game in that section of CARAG, and I'm sure parking is going to be one of the big reasons many of the critics oppose the project. I admit that I don't care much about parking, other than to admit that parking issues are important to the economic viability of most local businesses. Maybe I should say that I don't care about the parking issues for residents. If you want guaranteed parking then buy or rent a place that comes with a garage or parking spot, otherwise join the rest of us and look for street parking, take the bus, walk, or bike. Free parking shouldn't be considered a right, and parking problems for people who choose to live so close to Lake (their location certainly comes with plenty of other perks) shouldn't be something that concerns any of us. That's another topic, though. Still, parking remains an issue in Uptown and will undoubtedly continue to be a hot topic for years to come, so at least a daytime-focused business would help spread the parking needs throughout the day.
Height. Height is, of course, always another hot topic. This project is short, so the usual cries of "it's too tall!" aren't going to be heard. My complaint is that it's too short. As currently proposed, it's a one-story building with a rooftop patio. Let's skip the patio (I can see why neighbors aren't thrilled with that, and I think they have a legitimate complaint there) and put apartments or additional small office space on the second floor. A one-story (even one-story with rooftop additions) single-use property is a wasted opportunity.
So, what do you think?