Build, build, build! Growth, growth, growth! That's the enduring mantra of our time. And cities should be intensified, by adding population and connectivity. But what of intensified development that potentially conflicts with the streetscape and our greatest public asset— the lakefront? Should it get a pass anyway? We're specifically referring to a three-plot land sale on South Shore Drive just north of 77th Street. The bundled plots, totaling 2/3 of an acre, hit the market at the end of March for $3M. The blatant invitation is to develop multi-unit mid rise residential ("Anything above 30ft will have lake and city views"). Problem is, there's two old and moderately historic single-families that will have to be demolished or relocated for any larger vision to come together. One of those homes is the Field Pullman Heyworth House, dating to 1890. It is not landmarked, so a developer would have free reign. If you do a bird's eye scan down the block, as we did, you'll see that nearby stretches of South Shore Drive have already sacrificed their low-profile housing to clumsy mid-rises. In other words, there's nothing so perfect or innocent about this block. And another wrinkle: this is the third re-siting of the Heyworth House over the years. What's one more?
Should development happen, we only hope it's good design and that the older homes are preserved in some fashion. This isn't a question of access. There's already a band of park and beach and these plots are already private. As a city, should we promote the opportunity for greater numbers to live on the water, or keep views and character intact?
·Listing: 7651 S South Shore Dr [Koenig & Strey]