Archive for January, 2007

Westin a “go”: your thoughts?

You’ve probably heard already or seen the City Paper story: the Westin hotel on Lower Broadway is a “go.”

The Metro Council last night approved, on the second of three required votes, an Arkansas developer’s proposal to build a 201-foot, $105 million Westin hotel and condominium tower to sit along Lower Broad between Second and Third Avenues downtown — but not without a premonition of some stormy waters ahead.

(Maybe you even saw my brief gal-on-the-street interview on the news, but if you didn’t, count yourself lucky: I looked terrible.)

I thought this quote was interesting:

Local preservationists and neighborhood activists made a strong showing against the hotel last night, saying the tower would denigrate the historic integrity of Lower Broad, filling one block with a “big, beautiful, new building that [one] could see in any other area of the country,” as one put it.

Makes it sound like beautiful is bad, which is just silly, sloppy wording. Of course beautiful is good. But whose beautiful are we talking about? If the only definition of beautiful is gleaming, towering, contemporary high-rise architecture, that’s a problem. Because that’s not what the historic architecture looked like, and to many of us, antique brick and stone with decades or even centuries of wear and tear on them are just as beautiful, or even more so, depending on context. The Trail West building and its neighbors are not beautiful to many people in the condition they’re in today, of course; they need careful restoration to remove the materials that hide the original design and beauty of the architecture, and to restore the materials that remain. But those buildings could be beautiful. And you know, new, taller architecture mixed in with the antique materials could really be done tastefully. So much depends on how it’s executed.

What are your thoughts, readers? Happy or upset with the outcome of last night’s meeting? Excited or dismayed about the prospect of the hotel? Add your thoughts in the comments.

I got nothin’.

I rode the bus today like I said I would, and I listened for “overheard”-style snippets, like I said I would.

People were incredibly quiet. No one had anything stupid, unintentionally funny, or bizarre to say.

So I turn to you, dear readers. What gems have you overheard lately? Post ’em here in comments.

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