To the editor:
Recently, Doug Compton has confirmed intent to develop another multi-story residential building downtown. There is concern about it seeming incongruous with the surrounding buildings and catalyzing the trend to neglect the preservation of downtown’s historical air. While I sympathize with the sentiment of historic preservation, it’s important to balance it with embracing contemporary trends and considering community and environmental needs. Compton’s proposition is a necessary addition to downtown but should be mindfully implemented.
First, as the proposed site is opposite important historical sites, special consideration should be given to the building’s appearance. This would include a restriction on height and choosing an architectural style that is contemporary, yet complementary to its neighbors. Second, the design should reflect our community’s commitment to sustainability by mandating a minimum adherence to LEED standards or passive heating and cooling systems. Finally, an effort should be made to ensure affordability and promotion of social equity. Living downtown shouldn’t be limited only to those with high incomes.
There are a multitude of stakeholders in downtown development; its design, financing and execution should be transparent and genuinely participatory. Too often, I have attended a Lawrence City Commission meeting only to find the majority public opinion undermined by developers with deep pockets. Individual public concerns regarding Compton’s project should be addressed and resolved before the project is approved. And, perhaps we should collectively fashion a downtown development plan with clear parameters so as to avoid the same arguments over every proposal.