Fifth PD-15 Meeting More Wheel-Spinner Than Page-Turner

At the last PD-15 meeting, Preston Tower and Athena high-rises asked to meet to come up with a plan they thought they could “sell” to their residents. This was a direct reaction to the massing study shown at that meeting which pictured a development the towers felt would not be supported. I called that first massing study “a high water mark” in density. Perhaps the tower’s plan showed, in some respects, a low water mark. (And no, I’m not showing you that either because it’s just as polarizing as the other one. If you want to drink from that trough, come to the meetings.)

The towers’ plan, tamping down the height and density of the prior example, was met with severe pushback from the other buildings. A situation that should not have surprised any. The two-story buildings want to jump up, much like your friend’s enthusiastic dog that ruins your nylons every time you visit. The towers don’t want their nylons run.

In my opinion, these two plans represent the basis of a negotiation. You know, the kind of negotiation where the measurement of success is when no one is completely happy.

The second half of the meeting isn’t even worth discussing (it sure wasn’t worth experiencing). If you want to know what was discussed, read this, this, this and this. I say that because we were taken back to concepts like green space, walkability, and neighborhood feel that we’d discussed and agreed upon weeks and weeks ago. Either the facilitator missed those meetings or enjoys the echo. As a participant, it was like watching a Wheel of Fortune rerun knowing the answer while Sally buys another vowel.

A side comment on green space. Everyone wants green space, but two of the lots (Diplomat and Royal Orleans) are essentially one acre.  Aside from a jazzy sidewalk with some landscaping, there is simply no space to insert Central Park. Even at their current severely low density, there’s almost no green space. As Steve Martin sang decades ago, “It’s impossible to stick a Cadillac up your nose.”

And no meeting would be complete without bringing up the Preston Center Task Force plan. Some thought it sacred writ while others thought it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.  In case you were wondering which camp I’m in, it’s no secret. My final columns on the task force were titled, “Preston Center Task Force Shows How to Waste Two Years and $300,000” (here, here).

My personal contribution to the meeting? Didn’t. Say. One. Word. For those who know me, that’s a sure sign I’m gauging how many aspirin to take when I get home.


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email