by Michael R. Allen
Would you believe that there could be an attractive row of contemporary townhouses within a short walk of Grand Avenue in Midtown?
Behold the Art House, proposed for construction on Grandel just west of the perpetually-under-rehabilitation Merriwether House. Sage Homebuilders is the pioneering company daring to build actual housing in “Grand Center.” Forum Studio designed the townhouses.
So far, you can only see it in a Flash animation on your computer. Hopefully soon you will be able to walk through the completed buildings themselves and enjoy the smart views their generous windows will create.
Despite many visible failings in historic preservation and urban planning, somehow Midtown has attained two of the finest contemporary buildings in the city, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and the Contemporary Art Museum buildings. Art House would add one more unique contemporary building to the confused Midtown landscape. Amid parking lots and surviving historic buildings, perhaps we will find a crop of thoughtful, elegant, humanely-scaled residential architecture. If Art House can prove its own success by selling quickly, Grand Center’s longtime refusal to seriously consider the need for residents might start to wither as other developers get in line.
As we have seen downtown, a healthy market cuts through bureaucracy pretty quickly — and solidly on the side of more people, more buildings and more life.