Conserving Midtown neighborhoods

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This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I tackle the teardown trend, infill development, and the concept of Neighborhood Conservation Districts as a means of ensuring that new infill construction is compatible with existing development.

I have two photo credits in this issue: A photo from the statehood procession reenactment from the big statehood centennial celebration in Guthrie, which graces the table of contents, and a photo of the prime example of out-of-scale and out-of-character infill development which accompanies the column. A hat tip to forum member "yayaya" for tipping everyone off to this monstrosity. You can see more pictures on my Flickr set page, Tulsa Midtown McMansions.

Here are some supplemental links on the topic of teardowns and neighborhood conservation districts (NCDs):

For any OKC readers who were offended by a recent entry about the Oklahoma River, let me say that neighborhood conservation is an area where Oklahoma City is decades ahead of Tulsa.

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For nearly ten years, I've been urging Tulsa to enact a neighborhood conservation district ordinance. Sometimes they're called urban conservation districts or some other name, but these zoning districts are aimed at ensuring that new development in an ... Read More

» Midtown City Council forum from BatesLine

Candidates for the two midtown Tulsa City Council Districts, 4 and 9, will present their views on neighborhood issues tonight, Feb. 25th, at 7:00 p.m., at All Souls Unitarian Church, 30th & Peoria. Doors open at 6:30. I expect you'll hear a number of q... Read More


CGHill Author Profile Page said:

That particular example is heinous, but I suspect not unusually so; I've seen similar out-of-scale projects in Austin.

The Oklahoma City conservation districts, it should be noted, don't prohibit teardowns. However, any new construction must be consonant with the old: setbacks cannot be moved forward (the minimum setback in my neighborhood is 30 feet) and you can't add stories that weren't there before.

Three or four years ago, Habitat for Humanity found itself with two lots in Heritage Hills East. The donations were appreciated, but the historic-district rules made it impossible to build their usual standardized houses on those lots. Undaunted, they drew up plans for modified neo-bungalows that would fit in with the neighborhood, and did a pretty darn good job of it.

Even without a demolition prohibition, the requirement for new construction to be compatible removes some of the attraction of tearing down and building new.

That Habitat situation is another example showing that constraint is the mother of creativity. If guidelines are in place, aren't overly burdensome, and are consistently enforced, businesses and builders and even non-profits will find a way to work within them.

webworm Author Profile Page said:

Those who would care to see another of Mr. Puma's (LaBelle Homes) butchering of the zoning and building codes should drive to 2543 South Cincinnati, in Maple Ridge. There you will see the concrete foundation he created on this site. It is in violation of almost every code in town. Fortunately, due to extensive work by neighbors, a Stop Work order was issued and Mr. Puma was unable to continue his vile construction techniques. But he's still trying, so be on the alert for LaBelle!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 24, 2007 12:24 AM.

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