posted by chicago pop
If anyone wonders why the same names keep popping up again and again on this blog, there's a simple reason: the same few names keep out-gassing in the Herald like crabby spouses, or mucking around elsewhere leaving monkey wrenches conspicuously dangling about.
It's sort of like Blagojevich: we didn't ask for his behavior, but he just keeps doing crazy stuff and getting media attention for it.
So, to come back to our long-time HPP favorite, the Janus-faced Hans Morsbach, defender of the neighborhood and of high principles.
If ever there has been reason to quote Shakespeare on the blog, it is with reference to his latest letter on the Doctors Hospital vote -- in which he defends -- one more time -- his position. Note to Hans: me thinks thou dost protest too much.
Yes, it's been over a month, and Hans is still apologizing for the dumb decision he encouraged his neighbors to take and that most of the rest of the neighborhood is ticked off about. If it really had been the right thing to do, I don't think we would have had this blizzard of propaganda in the aftermath.
Taking the best interests of the neighborhood to heart, Morsbach issues this rejoinder to White Lodging's Bruce White:
I did not know of the extent of your philanthropic intentions and how they affect me. Do you
suggest that knowing that the University Medical Center receives a large donation will make a bigger impact on my life than looking every day at an ugly building, or give you license to tear down a landmark? ... Do you think that when your employees park on Harper Avenue that I think that is the cost of progress?
[Emphasis on personal pronouns added by the editor.]
So Hans is clearly not concerned about himself, and this comes through, as it also came through the referendum.
To satisfy the literary critics among us, I'll point out that it's unclear what "ugly building" Morsbach is referring to, as the Doctors Hospital is certainly no beauty, something which Morsbach himself confessed in an earlier letter in the summer of 2007. ("I have never paid much attention to the architectural merit of the hospital..." Herald LTE, July 18, 2007).
And of course, Doctors Hospital does not have landmark status, as Morsbach claims. But when you're out-gassing to the Herald, little details like that tend to escape out the blowhole.
On the note of factual inaccuracy, especially with regard to claims of things not falling apart and it just generally being OK that entropy and the second law of thermodynamics have become the governing principles of Hyde Park development, Mr. Jack Spicer makes the claim in today's Herald that the troubled Herald Building on 53rd and Harper is "a very solid building and in very good condition." ("HPHS seeks landmark status for 53rd and Harper," Kate Hawley, Herald, Wednesday December 10, 2008).
Now, the Herald Building that fronts 53rd has been vacant since spring of 2008, but even before that we have it from a variety of sources that it was falling apart.
For example, we learn from the October 11, 2006 Herald, that the company once interested in renovating the Harper Theater ran up against the problem of the building's advanced deterioration and the costs that fixing it would have entailed.
The building and its interior also need extensive repair and renovation," [the Herald told us, going on to quote the local art house theater chain Classic Cinemas (owner of the Tivoli in Downers Grove)], "Typically when you have an existing shell, a rough number [for renovation] is about $1 million per screen." ... In 2002, renovation cost estimates for the 1,200-seat theater building and its attachments were approximately $10 million.
Repairing the Harper Theater, in 2002, would have cost about 10x more than usual for a theater of its vintage. That seems like a decent index of the structure's dilapidation.
The article continues with a quote from Irene Sherr: "The theater now has deteriorated even further. They [Classic Cinemas] felt it was in terrible shape then and basically you had to rebuild the theater behind keeping the facade."
These statements from 2006 seem to corroborate the University's appraisal in this week's Herald, that "the building is in rough shape -- so bad it may not last another winter. In recent weeks, it has been surrounded with scaffolding, a measure to protect pedestrians from falling debris."
Makes sense. So what is Spicer's position on the scaffolding protecting pedestrians?
From the Herald, again: "He ... said the university doesn't have a permit for the sidewalk scaffolding."
Apart from this curious aversion to public safety measures, that's the second time Spicer is wrong, in one article. Kate Hawley actually checks this fact (bravo!), and tells us that a "valid permit is on file through February 15."
Perhaps the Hyde Park Historical Society, instead of scoffing at scaffolding, should ask its members to take time off work in order to hand out hard hats to all passers by?