Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The Endangered Dutch Colonials of Oliver Avenue North
The house at 2635 Oliver Avenue North needs some work. It's a relative certainty that somebody's going to be calling for its demolition, since the city of Minneapolis has informed the Jordan neighborhood of their intent to acquire the property. The item will come up for discussion at tonight's housing committee meeting. While there may be a case for tearing it down, I'll take the side of preservation, and lay out my reasons for that position.
First, there are already at least three or four vacant lots on the 2600 block of Oliver. The house to the north of this one is 2639 Oliver, a Mahmood Khan duplex that has had almost no work done since the tornado, and will likely be torn down. (A position I support, to the point where I went to a council hearing holding signs to express that view, even though no public testimony was formally heard then.)
On top of that pending demolition, we have...
...another tornado-damaged dutch colonial with a demolition order on it, and a third similar property immediately to the south of that house.
The boarded house with the demo order, by the way, appears to be on a nonconforming lot that would be too small to rebuild on. If that structure goes away, so does the tax base for that property.
Across the street from these homes, there are another two dutch colonial-style homes.
And just off-camera sits a sixth dutch colonial on the northeast corner of Oliver and 26th Avenues North. There is not, to my knowledge, a similar concentration of such houses anywhere nearby. This street has its own unique character to it that isn't present elsewhere in the immediate vicinity. Granted, some would say that "character" is blight, but that's because the houses in their existing condition aren't looking so hot. That's a reason to advocate rehab when appropriate, however, and not carte blanche for tearing things down.
Here, by the way, is a contributed photograph of what a row of dutch colonial houses looks like.
The potential loss of these houses underscores a point I made at a recent proposal for a Minneapolis conservation district ordinance. Namely, that if we keep tearing down houses in north Minneapolis, there will be nothing left to even qualify as a conservation district in our communities, and then such ordinances will only widen the gap of housing preservation when we compare north to the rest of the city.
These dutch colonials are essentially an endangered species, and deserve protection.