Build a Better Burb Reflections

BBB Intro

Galina Tachieva speaks on suburban renewal tactics at the recent CNU Sprawl Retrofit Council in Miami (image: EK)

I had the privilege to sit in at CNU’s recent Sprawl Retrofit Council in Miami.  Sprawl retrofit isn’t something that KWA typically gravitates towards, but CNU is expanding its focus on this important topic, and we are proud to be part of that effort.

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JAZZ MARKET ON THE COVER OF RETROFIT MAG

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The Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market was featured on the cover of the March-April issue of Retrofit Magazine! The issue features a great article by Retrofit staff writer Christina Koch that describes many of the challenges faced and overcome over the course of the project. As a firm with strong New Orleans roots, we at KWA are very proud of our role in making the Jazz Market a reality. Read more

KWA Wins Southface Fulcrum Award!

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Laura Daniel of KWA was on hand to accept the award, which is made from Forest Free wood from within the perimeter of Atlanta.

We’re happy to announce that KWA was recently selected as a recipient of a 2016 Fulcrum Award from Atlanta-based environmental advocacy and consultant group Southface! The Iberville Offsites in New Orleans were identified as a project that promotes Southface’s vision of a regenerative economy, responsible resource use, social equity and a healthy built environment for all. Read more

MAIN STREET RENOVATION

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Urban redevelopment is our bread and butter at KWA, and we’ve come to understand that attempting to renovate a building built 50-100 years ago is full of challenges. Zoning requirements based on suburban development – but applied to urban areas as well – place tough restrictions and requirements on land use, parking requirements, and setbacks.  Financing small mixed-use projects can be challenging even to those with deep pockets due to unanticipated obstacles. And if you manage to make it through all those hoops, our current building codes throw up a range of additional hurdles. We often see folks manage to overcome a range of challenges only to get bogged down in figuring out how to meet new building code requirements without breaking their budget. As we’ve navigated these obstacles ourselves we’ve developed a clear understanding of what to expect and how to best get through or around a lot of these issues. We recently put together a roadmap to help folks work through the code hurdles for a typical, two-story main street type building. Follow the link below to find the downloadable presentation file.

MAIN STREET REDEVELOPMENT

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URBAN RETAIL DESIGN CAMP

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Airstream trailers used by food vendors in Seaside are a great example of successful lean urbanism tactics (photo: EK)

I had the absolute pleasure of spending a few days at the Seaside Institute taking a deep dive into what makes urban retail successful.  Two of the leaders in town center design, Bob Gibbs and Terry Shook, led the class.  An amazing amount of material was shared and much ground was covered. Here’s a quick recap.

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Demographics Matters

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According to market analysts Todd Zimmerman and Laurie Volk, the majority of these demographic groups wants to live in a walkable community – that’s around half the country’s population; at the same time, only 0.55% of developed land in Atlanta qualifies as a walkable urban place (Leinberger; image: ZVA)

Over the past year we have been exposed to a barrage of extremely interesting and eye opening reports, presentations, and books on demographics.  These reports all indicate that the majority of Millennials and Baby Boomers want the same type of housing option – something located within a walkable community – and are increasingly willing to accept smaller, connected units to accomplish this.

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Small Developer Renovation Research

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We are big fans of small development here at Kronberg Wall, which means we also understand how difficult it can be. Small, incremental development is critical to the success of urban areas – especially those trying to get their feet off of the ground. While the Ponce City Markets of the world are great drivers for redevelopment, not all development needs to have major capital backing or business savvy developers to be successful. In fact, a series of small yet conscientious steps can go a long way in making a place better. That part is easy to wrap your head around: that small development can be just as effective – if not more so – of a place making tool as large scale projects.

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The Siren Call of the 203k Loan

I had the chance to listen to the Strong Towns podcast about a failed mixed use redevelopment attempt via a 203k loan with Ian Rasmussen. Listening to the story, I felt Ian’s pain.  I’ve made a few previous warning comments regarding 203k loans to folks in the Small Builder/Developer Facebook Group.  I’m going to take this opportunity to share as much as I can regarding this loan product so folks can make as educated a decision as possible regarding funding source for mixed-use projects.

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