Friday, October 12, 2012

Big Drab Grey Buildings

As we recently looked, neglected buildings can bring down the value of an area and just suck the life out of a block, while it's property owners are rewarded with paying less in property taxes. As we look around, there are other buildings in Mound that, while they are maintained, don't seem to add value to the block they sit on.

I'm speaking specifically about utility buildings.

Frontier building is the white/off white on the right side of the picture, on Commerce. Clearly our local phone company needs a place, and we love having them a part of the town and local scene, but  what is Frontier telling Mound when the building they built and are using  looks like this?
Frontier has two buildings in Mound, the one pictured above on Commerce, and the other next to Shirley Hills School. Let's focus on the one above for a moment. This building is in a area that has mixed use, some residential but is trending commercial.

Google Street View, is that the front, or back of the building?
What kind of message is being sent to the neighborhood when a building like this is constructed? I took a walk around this building, and the entrance is on the back side, along with some windows. Frontier, or it's neighbors have allowed trees, bushes and fences on the sides, so they don't have to look at each other. You know what's across the street from this building?

Langdon Apartments, across the street from the Frontier building.
Apartment buildings. Notice that the apartments put a parking lot between them, and Frontier? Now it should be noted that the Apartment buildings have a lovely view of Langdon Lake on the other side, but not everyone gets to live on that side of the building, do they? Can you imagine if you were considering getting an apartment here, and the stark contrast from one side of the building, to the other?

What does this Frontier building say about the city, and this block?

When a building like this is constructed, it's telling us several things. Putting the backside of the building on the street is telling everyone, you are not invited, please leave us alone. Putting up large grey featureless sides is showing us that they are not concerned with anyone but themselves, and have no intentions of trying to be good neighbors. We walk and drive by this building and pay it no attention as it doesn't create any value to that experience.

Clearly there is a reason for this building, and it's being used, and maintained. We aren't trying to push Frontier out, we just want them to create places that add value to the neighborhood. Unfortunately, this building creates an environment telling everyone who comes to this area to drive through, there's no reason to stop here. We need to insist that buildings built along high traffic volume areas like here need to add value to the street and block they live on.

What kind of environment do these other utility buildings create in their neighborhoods?

Mound Public works building, and the huge electrical junction off of Shoreline Dr.

Pond Hockey Arena, while it's not a utility building, it creates the same effect.