Don S. O'Keefe 
Member since Dec 23, 2011



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Re: “An expanded dorm complex at VCU becomes one of the largest single residences in the city

VCU is expanding its student population and facilities, which has been extremely beneficial for Richmond. Therefore, its footprint will have to expand. At the extreme, it can spread horizontally or vertically. I believe they should continue to expand vertically, increasing density as much as possible to avoid taking over more and more land in surrounding neighborhoods.

There are other benefits of densifying VCU. Less land used per unit area of floor space will increase economic efficiency, thus reducing costs and slowing tuition increases in the long term. If they can produce large amounts of housing, this will help slow the growth in rents of everyone in the area. Dense urbanism will increase the ability of the city to support more forms of retail. Density will provide a higher user base for the transit system.

VCU should lead the way in Richmond's transformation into a sustainable, walkable and transit-oriented urban environment. This will involve increases in population density, traffic, and parking difficulties, all of which, I would argue, are beneficial in the long term in terms of economy, public health, and sustainability. (See the work of those seriously studying the urban environment: easy reads include but are not limited to Jane Jacobs, Jeff Speck, and Richard Sennett.)

22 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Don S. O'Keefe on 08/27/2018 at 5:07 PM

Re: “Why Stories Comics Suddenly Closed on Forest Hill and What's Next

This is a major loss for the Woodland Heights/ Forest Hill area. Stories will be sorely missed. I'm distraught.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Don S. O'Keefe on 02/04/2018 at 10:34 AM

Re: “This Historic Building Near the Institute for Contemporary Art Deserved a Better Fate than Parking

"Aesthetically and from an urban design standpoint, the elegant but frayed building ... served as desperately needed connective tissue to the campus and city grid and gave the Holl building extra pop as they shared common ground."

This passage says it all. The material juxtaposition would have been lovely, and the presence of a modest older building would have enhanced Steven Holl's "forking" gesture and blended the rear public spaces of the ICA with the existing campus. What a shame. Thank you Ed Slipek for at least giving the VCU administrators a deserved slap on the wrist, even though they've finally done something right by commission Holl. Both credit and blame where it is due.

All of this assumes that they will not replace it with something better. I would absolutely love to have this assumption proved wrong.

18 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Don S. O'Keefe on 05/09/2017 at 3:23 PM

Re: “Ginter Park Residents Look to City to Stop Westwood Tract

Saunjon, thanks for the reply. I don't think the issue is that I don't understand the position of concerned Northsiders (though I am sure there are issues that I am ignorant of), but that I am opposed to that position. I simply have different goals. Take home values, as you brought up. When development (supply) is restricted when there is rising demand, it inflates home values. This is good for people who already own homes in Northside, but not the metro as a whole. Rising housing costs in the city create winners and losers, and the losers tend to be those who can't or couldn't afford homes. Setting the development ceiling in the city this low also pushes development demand further into the suburbs, straining infrastructure and environment. The storm water argument is chicken-and-egg; dense urban areas with far less permeable surface area have no problem managing it and it can be upgraded to meet demand. The same goes for schooling, even if we leave aside the questionable morality of trying to exclude lower income people from a school district. I would like to see traffic in Northside increase drastically as part of the transition from suburban to urban, culmination in the adoption of mass transit as the primary commuting method.

As for Jeff, you can obviously disagree with my views, but authoritarianism is not one of them. The ability of the city to forcefully micro-manage urban development is precisely what I am taking issue with here. Contempt is too strong a word for me, but I do admonish those in the community who are putting their personal preferences first while advocating positions that I regard as environmentally and socially irresponsible.

I don't expect to find much solidarity on the comment thread, but because I disagree with the entire frame for this debate, I am trying to widen the discourse. There are way more than two sides here.

12 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Don S. O'Keefe on 05/08/2017 at 1:16 PM

Re: “Ginter Park Residents Look to City to Stop Westwood Tract

I support the redevelopment. Residents of Ginter Park do not have the right to put the city in visual stasis. Neither do residents of any other neighborhood. Deciding development patterns based on city-enforced citizen "consensus" should be permanently abandoned as a concept. Ginter Park, for all of its supposed charm, is ultimately another inner ring suburban neighborhood. As such, it should be subjected to the pressures of the necessary reorganization of the metropolitan population. We must reform the entire Richmond Metropolitan Area to bring it into accordance with sustainable, pedestrian and transit oriented mixed-use urbanism. And yes, this will mean that neighborhoods will change significantly and irrevocably.

15 likes, 16 dislikes
Posted by Don S. O'Keefe on 05/08/2017 at 10:29 AM

Re: “Giving Sanctuary: What We Know About Richmond’s Role in the Immigration Debate

In short, communities that are trying to do the right thing by helping people in need may soon be punished by the federal government. Undocumented immigrants have sacrificed more than most birth right citizens can know in order to enjoy the fruits of the American system; my ancestors did the same thing. And let's not forget, when the first colonists came, they didn't bring a green card, they brought small pox, slavery, and guns. Extending a helping hand to undocumented people and creating a relationship of trust is the best policy for this country, and any country, and it always will be. Creating a system that punishes communities for their compassion is not. It's that simple.

8 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Don S. O'Keefe on 02/09/2017 at 8:07 AM

Re: “The History of Art Deco in Richmond

Deco Ristorante and Pack Fan,

Ed Slipek knows literally every art deco building in this city. He did not "miss" the buildings you mention. He obviously cannot include every deco building in a 1500 word piece. If I had to guess, I would suggest that both of these buildings were not included because they were too late chronologically and to distant stylistically (moderne) to be relevant to his theme. In the case of Deco Ristorante, it simply isn't an important example of deco architecture in Richmond. I can think of several other representative structures that were not included but would have been ahead in line. Just because it is your restaurant doesn't make it important for the piece, and its exclusion is not evidence of neglect by the journalist.

10 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Don S. O'Keefe on 02/08/2017 at 11:11 PM

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