Armory Park Commentary & News

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New Houses in the ‘Hood

Many of you may have noticed the construction at the corner of 5th Avenue and 18th Street. We will soon see four new houses there designed by Tucson architect, Rob Paulus. UntitledThe houses are small on the exterior with an appearance similar to many of the historic bungalows in Armory park. Actually each bungalow has 1780 square feet of living space, 3 bedrooms and 2 baths according to the Paulus website (http://robpaulus.com/projects/18th-street-bungalows/). Each house will have one off-street parking space.

Bungalow floor plans

Four bungalows on one large corner lot is cozier than many Armory Park properties but looking at the site under construction, the space seems adequate. Some have criticized placement of four houses on the lot but that density is not without precedent in the neighborhood and it makes the project economically feasible. The developer, architect and historic board worked closely to make this project fit well in Armory Park. All should be thanked for their hard work.

We have a few more similar vacant lots in Armory Park and I would much rather see each such lot have four bungalows rather than a large apartment building or worse. The economic pressure for development of vacant lots is becoming intense so we may find that such a development is the best available alternative.

Construction of all four bungalows is moving along briskly with two of the four nearly framed. Foundation and site work looks complete for the other two.

Marketing agent for the bungalows, Rose Faitsch, informed me that, “Completion date is expected to be May 2018 for 18th Street Bungalows.  Anyone interested may contact me at rose@habitationrealty.com or call me at 520-419-3905“. The marketing website is: http://www.18thstreetbungalows.com/.

Historic Preservation Activities

It has been some time since I have posted an article because I have been busy with some exciting things related to historic preservation in Armory Park. I’ve made it clear on these pages that preserving our neighborhood’s historic character has a high priority for me.

APHZAB News – Probably the most important effort is that the historic board (APHZAB) has started the new year with a major effort to improve the historic review process. A key part of that effort is to make information more accessible to those who would like to do construction or alteration in Armory Park. The first step in better communications is the new APHZAB  information website (http://aphzab.org). The site is in the early stages but it already has some information you might find useful.

A companion to the website is a cloud drive:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1q1IMHpo9dcmCNgC5YdQzjv2nUupLBZu8?usp=sharing, which has more information which the board will use in its deliberations and you can use to prepare for a historic review. There are also links on the website to the cloud drive. If you go to the drive, please read the WELCOME note there to get started.

Earlier this month the board and PDSD staff participated in a training session. Not only did board members learn more about historic preservation and the city’s rules, discussions also brought the city staff and board members closer together for a smoother review process.

I am not a member of APHZAB but I have volunteered to provide information technology help. Please give me your feedback by email to aphzab@gmail.com. I need to learn what is helpful and what is not. Something that would be helpful to you may have been left out. Perhaps some information could have been more clearly written. Please let me know.

Historic Streetscape Project – Steve Grede, an APHZAB member and historic architecture professional, has initiated a project to document the public areas surrounding our historic structures. By recording the historic amenities (curbs, sidewalks, etc.) and others which are not(e.g. utilities) we will be able to defend preservation of the historic elements which are not buildings.

You may have seen some of us helping Steve by taking pictures and doing measurements around the neighborhood. A lot of detail has been recorded and it has been time consuming for the volunteers.

APHZAB Elections & Design Review Process

The 19 December APHZAB meeting had no projects to consider however there was other business conducted.

Michael Taku, Lead Planner at PDSD made some comments and handed out a copy of a portion of the Uniform Development Code from which I extracted the following. If you are considering any project in Armory Park you should review the process described in the code. Otherwise you may want to move past this. Continue reading “APHZAB Elections & Design Review Process”

Save Your Historic Neighborhood

Yesterday, I wrote about the APNA board meeting where the propose Baffert project and removal of the property from our HPZ was extensively discussed. I want to follow up on the subject.

Bill Duffy, Chair of our historic board (APHZAB), recently posted an excellent email to our listserv on the subject. Most of it is quoted here: Continue reading “Save Your Historic Neighborhood”

APNA Concerned About Baffert Project

The most important discussions of the meeting were regarding the proposed Baffert project at Five Points. While some have expressed concern about the height of the proposed building or its impact on the on-street parking situation, those are not the most important problems with this proposal.  The mechanism being used by the developer and the Tucson planning department is to remove the project’s lot from our Historic Preservation Zone. The precedent created is a threat to the historic character of our entire neighborhood and others across the city. Continue reading “APNA Concerned About Baffert Project”

A Busy Evening at APHZAB

The November APHZAB meeting was a little different than usual because it opened with a presentation by Michael Taku, lead planner in the PDSD historic office. A central message was that the board has a recommending role and is not a final decision maker. The PDSD director has the final say subject to appeal to Mayor and Council. He also asked for feedback from the board to streamline the review process. Streamlining will be easier said than done because of the many obstacles: a split building- historic permit process, shortage of staff, staff inexperience and a culture that does not seem to value customer service. I will remain a hopeful skeptic until I see concrete improvements. Continue reading “A Busy Evening at APHZAB”

Rezoning Closer to Home

Here is another rezoning issue much closer to home. Again, Steve K has done a great job breaking down the subject into understandable pieces. The key element here is the lack of flexibility of HPZ rules concerning maximum height of structures. There has been considerable discussion within our two boards, APNA and APHZAB. Various board members have different views on the matter, but most seem to feel that some form of compromise is needed. Please read through Steve’s piece carefully, then decide how you feel about the issue. Our boards need your input.  Continue reading “Rezoning Closer to Home”

More About Fry’s – Houghton and 22nd

This rather lengthy piece  was taken from Steve Kozachik’s latest newsletter. You may recall my earlier piece on the subject based on my attendance at a public hearing. Steve’s interest is the same as mine, the casual way that city government treats its legal and ethical obligations to our communities. The motivation is economic with our local politicians prioritising economic growth and tax revenue over the environment and community wellbeing. With all of the economic activity near the city center, we should expect similar problems sooner or later. There is a lot of detail here but Steve laid out the issues better than I did.  Continue reading “More About Fry’s – Houghton and 22nd”