Friday, February 01, 2008

What's the matter with Old Tuxedo?

There's nothing the matter with Old Tuxedo--that neighborhood that sits between Kenaston Boulevard and Assiniboine Park. It's an excellent example of 1910s and '20s suburbia, when craftmanship and beauty still mattered in house construction. One who lives there today would be fortunate enough to be in easy walkling distance of Assiniboine Park to the west, and easy cycling distance (down the winding, semi-bucolic Wellington Crescent) from the shops of Academy, Corydon, Osborne, and Downtown to the east.

For some of the people that live there, however, it seems that it isn't a nice place to live: it's too crowded with houses, and any attempt to subdivide a double-sized property into a normal-sized one--roughly the same size as every other lot in the neighborhood--would be too much. As the Free Press reports today, a handful of neighbors were successful in appealing to the City to cancel one property owner from doing just that.

Or, as one local architect said of the situation:
"How about this one….a resident in river heights owns a lot that is 100 feet wide…when you walk by it, you think that it is a double lot…a large historic home sits on one side and the other is empty….the owner of the property has been trying to split it to build a small home for his family on the empty side….they met all the requirements for density, setbacks, everything…. he was keeping the old house and all the trees on the lot……the planning department approved it but today 20 people came out to the appeal and bitched about noise, sunlight, overdevelopment and everything else on the earth….bill clement came out of nowhere and voted against it eventhough he had been approached to get involved for the last 6 months.

So….now the owner is going to bulldoze his historic house, cut down all the trees and build a three storey monster in its place."

When the house was built (in 1912, according to the City's Property Assessment), this property probably was two properties, with the vacant one managing to not be built upon, it would have been purchased by an owner of the house next door sometime between 1912 and today. Anyway, so long as the architecture, scale and setback of the new house was coherent with the architecture, scale and setbacks of the surrounding neighborhood, it wouldn't be any different than any of the rest of the lots nearby that are half the size of this double lot.

Perhaps these concerned citizens would volunteer their own houses to the wrecking ball, so that more double lots could be created, and Old Tuxedo's "character" and "way of life" can be enhanced further still.


In an email commenting on my last post, my Grandfather wrote about Portage and Main:

" could my generation be so stupid and let the city get away with this! Not only that, they are still getting away with it without fixing this stupid decision. Adding to this is the disgrace that the Mayor and the Council have shown that they lack vision. They are too busy wasting time behind the screens of their computers. I can well imagine what this does to the overall communication when they rarely look up.

Portage and Main used to remind me of the of the song "Standing on the Corner" and I could remember in the old days "watching all the girls go by" and wondering whether that corner inspired the song."


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