Our Proposal: In order to protect and enhance property values and aesthetic appeal, Crystal City should contact the Heartland Brick Council to request the free planning services that they provide to adopt building material and design standards that will require new commercial buildings, at a minimum, to construct their building fronts out of glass and brick or stone and restrict their color selections to prohibit the use of garish or visually unpleasant colors.
From the Heartland Brick Council FAQ:
What is the Heartland Brick Council?
Heartland Brick Council is a not-for-profit association of Midwest clay brick manufacturers. Like most industry associations we market and support our products in various ways and serve as a gateway to the industry as a whole. Heartland Brick Council has a particular interest in communities, which is the foundation for our program of free community planning assistance.
How can you offer your services for free? What's the catch?
Heartland Brick Council believes that strong development standards generally result in thoughtfully designed, high-quality development for a community. This kind of development in turn attracts more of the same. The end result is that both the community and the clay brick industry (which makes a high quality building product) benefit. By working to build healthy, beautiful communities, the brick industry wins too! There is no catch. You will never receive an invoice for Heartland Brick Council’s community planning services.
If my community asks for your assistance, are you going to help us or just try to sell us brick?
While we believe that design guidelines and standards are generally ineffective unless they address building materials, we tailor our advice to fit the unique issues and economic and political realities of your community. However, once citizens begin to analyze what they really want from development in their community, brick usually becomes part of the conversation. We believe in our product and will definitely promote the community-wide benefits of local policies that call for its use.
Who provides your services?
Heartland Brick Council employs a small staff of experienced community planners who are members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Collectively, the staff has nearly 30 years of local government planning experience. While many community planners are generalists working in a variety of disciplines, our planners focus entirely on one aspect of community planning – policy solutions that generate better design and construction. Click here for bios of our planners.
The planners at HBC use a variety of tools to help communities achieve their goals:
Incentive-supported standards or guidelines: Policies don’t have to be mandatory to have a positive impact on a community. Heartland Brick Council has helped communities reward well-designed development with tax abatements, grant funds, density bonuses and other incentives.
Alternative compliance: A type of incentive, this tool offers builders and developers the opportunity to substitute community-preferred design for other zoning requirements, or even to expedite the development approval process.
Overlay zone: This is a common means of applying written design standards or guidelines to the geography of a community. The new standards of the overlay zone are layered on top of the preexisting base zoning requirements, adding to them rather than altering or substituting for them. Overlay zones are particularly useful when the new design policy needs to be applied uniformly to an area that may consist of several different base zones.
Planned unit developments: PUD’s are neighborhoods that are mostly designed long before the ground is broken. Because a master plan that contemplates the look and use of virtually every building in the development must be approved by the local government before construction starts, PUD’s naturally lend themselves to the implementation of design guidelines or standards.
Design review: Some communities opt to support their design guidelines with a review of the design of each proposed development project. This term typically implies that the review is done by a specialized board made up of volunteers who are qualified to make judgments about architecture, urban design, and historic preservation.
The HBC has video interviews with officials in communities that they have worked with in the past-- and that have seen great success with their implementations
Crystal City needs a solution designed by Crystal Citians to solve the problems of aesthetic development standards- and with the help of the Heartland Brick Council planners we can find it! We do not need to become a clone of Ladue, Town and Country, Clayton, etc. We should not turn away new businesses- far from it! A happy medium between excessive standards and no standards does exist!
Retail establishments-- with the money, jobs, and shopping opportunities that they bring to a community are very important to Crystal City's future. Crystal City is under-served by its current retail base in many ways and improving that base is critical to improving Crystal City over the next 10 years. To be effective, that improvement must be made hand-in-hand with improved expectations and clear design standards that developers and property owners will have to follow. It is not acceptable in the 21st century for a community to allow a massive red sheet metal barn to go up in the middle of brick residences and brick commercial buildings. It is time to raise our expectations and by doing so raise the level of beauty of our community.