Wednesday, November 22, 2006

East side updates

ITEM: The wreckers have started hitting the old Sentry Foods on Oakland. They're maybe 1/4th of the way through it as of this evening.

And in a brazen affront to the neighborhood, Walgreens will not be constructing a full apartment building, just their own store. The obvious conclusion is that the apartments were always a myth, a lure to get the powers-that-be to go along with tearing down the Sentry.

With the competition of Sentry's removed, Walgreens will be much closer to a lockup on neighborhood grocery foot traffic. Without a full multi-use building going up, it is far more likely that the new Walgreens will be a chain-standard, single-use, single-story building with a large parking lot, degrading the public realm of the Oakland Avenue commercial district. The chain has taken away our neighborhood grocery store, and in return they will give us a worse environment than we had before.

ITEM: I'm pleased to report construction activity at three of the tear-down sites I wrote about earlier. Foundation walls have been poured at the N. Warren site (north of Brady) and the Cambridge & Irving site (also north of Brady, near the North Ave. Dam.) Excavation has begun at the N. Cramer & Greenwich site, near the East Side Library.

ITEM: Signs have appeared around UWM's campus, wanting to "Save 2005 and 2009 Kenwood", referring to a pair of handsome, sturdy-looking single-family homes at Kenwood and Prospect that are in danger of demolition. Their new owner, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, wants to tear them down to construct a new Hillel Center.

The Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission has conducted a review of the two buildings, which are part of a lineup of similarly-styled houses all built by the same builder.

The report details the architectural and historic significance of the houses at length, but even disregarding that, their demolition should be opposed on grounds of urban design and planning. The brutal, inhuman segment of UWM's campus that faces the houses is somewhat mitigated by the intimate scale of the residential buildings on the south side of Kenwood, which can also provide badly needed East Side housing. Their integrity should not be degraded.

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