Historic travesty


Many of us have experienced losses after the recent tornadoes, or have tried to help those who have. A week ago I traveled to Tuscaloosa to visit some friends, whose house is shown above. It is located in a beautiful historic neighborhood called The Highlands, and it was barely recognizable to me. Massive century-old trees are gone. While my friends’ house sustained relatively minor damage, the beautiful neighboring house will probably not survive. Other houses from the 1920s and 30s face demolition or major repairs.

Other neighborhoods suffered more, and have fewer resources to build back. As a silver lining, perhaps Smartcode, promoting pedestrian-friendly and sustainable development, can be implemented in the “start-from-scratch” neighborhoods. A lot of effort, money, and patience will be required to mend this huge wound in our environment.

A long road to recovery

7 responses to “Historic travesty

  1. I went to a special City Council meeting 2 weeks ago where they discussed this. The mayor and council are committed to “doing it right.” They were in the middle of a comp plan for that neighborhood, and even though it’s not done, they directed the permit folks to look at existing comp plans and use them to make sure that ugly buildings didn’t get permitted. Sadly, one of the neighborhoods (Forest Lake, I think) was preparing a historic district application and was told that they would not be able to apply because there was so little left of the neighborhood.

  2. Indeed, sad. I remember that neighborhood from years ago and wondered how it fared. Let’s hope the opportunities you describe are seized. The comments from the mayor in the newspaper were encouraging. But those trees…

    • The place looks like a brand-new subdivision at the beach. My friends’ completely secluded backyard is now totally open with bleak vistas across communities filled with blue tarps and downed trees. The comments from the mayor were encouraging. You’re right, it’s so hard to imagine a restored place without those trees though…

  3. Libby Pantazis

    Thanks for posting this blog. I have forwarded it on to my son’s landlord in hopes that he and his father will re-build in a sustainable manner. The home was obliterated as well as the two huge oaks in front of the home; just off 15th on Cedar Crest but all survived. It would be a welcomed site to introduce the University of Alabama with a sustainable neighborhood. David Furhman of College Properties is just the man to take the lead in this re-building effort of his 15 homes.

  4. If ever there was a silver lining in all of this, it’s that Tuscaloosa is in capable hands in regard to municipal leadership. So many more developers- as well as the public- are much more sensitive to sustainable practices, historic preservation and “new urbanism” principals than at any other time since the 1920s. I can feel more at ease knowing that engaged people are in charge over there.

    Let us hope Pratt City receives the same type of thoughtful resurrection. Encouragement will need to be directed towards Birmingham City Hall to make it so.

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