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Building Preservation Vision Sought in Lakewood

Given the public uproar over the proposed demolition of the now defunct Detroit Theatre, city officials want to hear from the community to decide which buildings should be preserved in Lakewood — and why.

In the wake of the , Lakewood officials are organizing a community work session to begin developing a collective vision as it pertains to the preservation of buildings in the city. 

The meeting – to be hosted by Mayor Mike Summers and Lakewood Planning Commission director Dru Siley – will take place at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 in the , and more than 100 hundred people are expected to attend.

At the meeting, the public will break up into several small groups to fill out surveys and look at photos of 47 structures in Lakewood that hold either historic or nostalgic relevance, he said. 

Out of those 47, each group will have to pick 10 that they would save and offer rationales as to why they’d save them. 

Members of the Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board will act as proctors and will provide information as needed to the groups. 

“I think there are many definitions of (what preservation in Lakewood means),” Siley said. “There are many folks working on different things, but we’re all not all going in the same direction, necessarily, and I think we find ourselves often being reactive and sometimes inactive when preservation related issues are coming up. 

"The whole point of it is to get people talking, to get people discussing: what are you thinking about when you look at preservation? What is important to you when you’re evaluating these buildings? What are the emotional components, what are the architectural components?” 

Members from the Architectural Board of Review, Planning Commission, the , the and others will attend as well to listen and join in on the discourse. 

Following the work session, city officials will distill the surveys, comments and information collected from the public and various board members into workable data that will go to develop the preservation vision. 

Siley said the issue will then undergo further discussion later next month. 

Alex Vandehoff July 29, 2011 at 07:05 PM
An interesting topic, to be sure. It would be nice if they could clearly define what a 'historical' building actually is. I think there need to be more criteria than 'i like it', 'we went there with grandma', and 'it's pretty' which seems to be enough for many people.
Peter Grossetti July 29, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Amen, Alex - Just because a building is old and holds memories does not make it "historically significant."
Jacquie July 30, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Another question is ... will they be preserved and/or restored or just sit there as is. There is nothing attractive about the building that houses the Detroit theater, personally I would not miss the building if it was gone. But here is my question ... if the city decides to buy this property, will it sit there for 20 years like the Hilliard Square theater has? Just a prime example of how long a building can stay empty.
Peter Grossetti July 30, 2011 at 06:39 PM
There has been no interest from the City to purchase the Detroit Theatre.
Pat Ballasch July 31, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Excellent idea. This is a good way to get in front of critical preservation opportunities. When a large group of citizens understand what makes a structure worth preserving it allows resources to be focused. Public service time & taxpayer funds need to stay directed on priority items. (Lets admit time & money are limited)
Pat Ballasch July 31, 2011 at 06:13 PM
I could see this being used as the basis of a presentation on DVD. (Place some copy's at the library ) It would save a lot of time if people could access the principals and understand the importance of preservation, planning, development and how that impacts the health of a city. It's tough to make good decisions without a solid background.
Chris Bergin August 01, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Should another point of consideration be, "How does the preservation, or demolition, of a specific building impact Lakewood's image and reputation?"?
Pat Ballasch August 01, 2011 at 04:35 PM
Chris could you give us your idea of what Lakewood's image and reputation are? I think it's important to respect the right of an owner to use, alter and dispose of their personal property as they see fit. (Zoning , health and deed restrictions could create a few limitations.) There's some real balancing to be done on some of these issues. That's why it's important to have clear definitions. Wading through emotions & self interests is tough enough. We need a well defined process to keep things respectful.

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