Lax design standard enforcement deters investment

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It happened in Bartlesville, but the lesson applies everywhere: You can't expect people to adapt and reuse your historic buildings or build high quality new construction which fits in a historic area if you allow someone to throw up a metal building in the midst of it:

In November 2007, Shelby Navarro, Tulsa architect who is currently involved with an investment group re-developing 70 buildings in the Pearl District of Tulsa, and J. Elliot Nelson, owner of McNally's [McNellie's] Pub in Tulsa and of other pubs and restaurants in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, came to Bartlesville at Clyde Sare's invitation. They toured the BRTA [Bartlesville Redevelopment Trust Authority] buildings at Second Street and Keeler Avenue with the idea of developing them and other buildings downtown into a dining/entertainment/retail complex. Mr. Nelson was already committed to installing a pub at the Pioneer Building on Dewey Avenue.

After the BRTA overturned the Design Review Committee's decision regarding construction of a metal building in the Downtown District, Mr. Rankin and his associates, as well as Shelby Navarro and J. Elliot Nelson, decided to put their plans on hold. They were concerned that such lax enforcement of design guidelines would be harmful to future investments. In Rankin's words, "There needs to be a stable environment to protect the investors who risk their capital in a historical district."

Emphasis added. At least Bartlesville has a Design Review Committee, but it doesn't do much good if they override the rules and allow incompatible design and cheap, throwaway buildings.

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mpeps Author Profile Page said:

I wonder how the members of the BRTA are appointed. If they are directly appointed by the Bartian Mayor, then - instead of architects or planners being on the board - you'll get friends of the mayor on the authority. And they might be nice people, but its pointless to have people overseeing urban redevelopment that don't know what good urban development is and isn't...

Though the fact that the BRTA ignored the Design Review Committee's recommendations makes me wonder what connections the "metal building" owner had on the BRTA to get that type of construction approved in the downtown district...

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 22, 2008 8:39 PM.

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