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Thursday, January 9,2014

Eye candy of the week

by Daniel Bollman, AIA
Property: 1010 W. Saginaw St., Lansing (vacant lot)

Owner: Neil Park

Assessed value:
$31,400

Given the wide variety of architecture in greater Lansing, a vacant lot is not a likely Eye Candy subject. However, considering the building that had been at this site, the decision to remove it provided a marked improvement. When the former building was featured in 2004 as City Pulse’s first Eyesore of the Week, the adjacent neighboring business suggested the building was a problem.

Put simply, an empty lot is occasionally preferable to a bad building. Clearly, if a resource is detrimental to nearby uses, demolition might be the best option. Most historic district ordinances actually identify additional instances where cities might benefit from the removal of resources — even historic buildings. If a building constitutes a safety hazard or creates a deterrent to a major improvement project, the possible benefits of demolition are clear.

However, care must be exercised when undertaking demolition. Beyond a building’s obvious cultural value, an uninterrupted row of buildings provides a pattern of solidity and order along the street. Even a few breaks in this pattern will disrupt the rhythm, possibly advancing the degradation of the block and the neighborhood. In many cases, “mothballing” a building — protecting it from the elements and wildlife — can extend its life indefinitely, allowing it to maintain its important presence in the streetscape until market forces allow for its rehabilitation.

“Eye Candy of the Week” is our look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates with Eyesore of the Week.

If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse. com or call Andy Balaskovitz at 999-5064.

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