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Elizabeth Ward | Kronberg Wall Architecture Design Development Atlanta

Parking Updates and Why They Matter: Part Two

 

KW has saved 2,946 unnecessary parking spaces from Atlanta, but we still need to challenge the legitimacy of minimum parking requirements.

A few months ago we sang the praises of Atlanta’s new parking-related zoning updates, and hinted at a follow-up post. Our feelings on parking requirements aren’t a big secret: we want them gone. But we know that in a city like Atlanta, parking is an important part of most projects. We also know that parking requirements rarely correlate to how much parking a project truly needs to be successful.

Over the last decade (a majority in the last 4 years), we have worked on countless projects where the amount of zoning-required-parking didn’t match up with the proposed uses. In that time, we have pursued over 20 parking variances. To date, we have saved 2,946 unnecessary parking spaces from afflicting our city. Yes, you read that right. Nearly 3,000 parking spaces beyond what these projects needed were required by our zoning code. Note that 2,646 of these spaces were to be located ITB (inside the Beltline – or, in our most walkable, transit-rich core).

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The Not-So-Great Scooter Debate

There is an imbalance in the way we prioritize streets. This imbalance stands squarely between us and a better future for our city.

Can you believe it? Some opaque industry polluted the public spaces of our city with dangerous vehicles and we are all complicit in allowing them to get away with it! These devices are endangering our children, congesting our streets, and ruining our quality of life. Oh…, wait, you thought we were talking about scooters, those safe, environmentally friendly alternatives to the true culprit – your hideous and lethal automobile? You need to get some perspective, my friend, and share it with your state and city legislators.

Cities around Georgia, and now the State of Georgia, are implementing laws to regulate the use of e-scooters and e-bicycles, citing ‘safety’ as the number one concern. Communities are outraged at the proliferation of scooters that are “littering sidewalks” and “speeding” past pedestrians. Many municipalities have banned scooters, and the City of Atlanta has gone so far as to implement a speed limit on the Beltline, one of our only car-free pieces of infrastructure. We need to take a step back, and ask ourselves, are scooters really the problem? Or, are they one somewhat pesky solution to a much larger issue?

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10 Thoughts for Hulsey Yard

If you haven’t yet heard (you must live under a rock), CSX has officially vacated Hulsey Yard, a former intermodal freight terminal and our across-the-street neighbor. They have moved the operations of Hulsey to another yard in Fairburn, leaving the 70-acre site that divides four neighborhoods largely empty. Serendipitously, those same neighborhoods have recently kicked off a master planning process to develop a “cohesive, community-supported vision” for the future of this giant property.

We’ve attended the pop-up, we’ve submitted our comments online, but we also want to spread the word about what we think should be done with this site. We are proud residents of Reynoldstown, and our office sits right on the edge of Hulsey. What we want, more than anything, is MORE. More connectivity, more neighbors, more density. There are a few things we want less of, too. Namely, less parking. We’ve outlined some guiding principles below:

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Parking Updates and Why They Matter

It’s 2019. Does your city still have minimum parking requirements? So starts a recent Strong Towns post, and while Atlanta does still have minimum parking requirements, we’ve also recently implemented some changes that will hopefully begin to free us from our parking plagued past.

We’ve talked extensively in previous posts about the problems of parking requirements. Minimum parking requirements are known to induce driving, decrease affordability and decrease walkability. The average cost to build a surface parking space is between $5,000 and $15,000, and structured parking is estimated between $25,000 and $50,000 per space. Those costs are not eaten by the developer, they are passed on to the end user. Buying a condo? You’re paying for parking requirements. Renting an apartment? You’re paying for parking requirements. Looking for an office or retail space? You’re paying for parking requirements. Don’t drive? Doesn’t matter, you’re paying for parking requirements if they exist. Beyond cost, it’s important to understand what parking requirements physically look like when implemented. They look…suburban.

It’s important to understand what parking requirements (in this case, Atlanta’s requirements) physically look like on a site. Are parking spaces more productive than people spaces?

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Calling All Ideas For a Better Atlanta! Housing Choice Edition

Atlanta is changing demographically, but our housing stock isn’t keeping up.

Last Friday, the Atlanta City Studio asked us to present our ideas on housing choice at Design Over Donuts. Or, as Eric Kronberg preferred to call it, Design Over Missing Middle Pastries. Dad joke!

The conversation that ensued was passionate, and understandably so. We see concerns about change in our existing communities as legitimate. We also view passion as a legitimate emotion in these conversations, because we ourselves feel very passionately about it. We want the city that we live in and the neighborhoods where we work to be the best possible versions of themselves. This doesn’t just mean beautiful, this means equitable. And we firmly believe that it’s possible to have both in Atlanta. We are proud to live in a city that has a City Design Studio: that not only believes these conversations are important, but that has created a forum for them to take place.

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When Actions Speak Louder Than Words: The Importance of Pilot Projects

 

Atlanta is facing an affordable housing crisis, as are most cities and towns around the state of Georgia, and the rest of the country. “Affordable housing” is a loaded term, as it means different things to different people. But one thing is evident: communities can’t grow if they can’t provide housing that is affordable to a variety of people, and they certainly can’t grow equitably. At KW, we believe that “housing choice” is a great start to combat the affordable housing crisis. What do we mean by housing choice? We mean that our communities should provide housing options that a variety of people – in all stages of life, of all sorts of family structures, in all income brackets – can afford. More importantly, communities need to provide housing choice in walkable (or transit accessible) places near goods and services. We’ve been saying this for a long time, but we’re tired of talking. We’re ready to do it already.

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A Tactical Solution for Dekalb Ave

It’s no secret that we are bicycle enthusiasts at KWA; half of our employees are bike commuters, and we also happen to share an office with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. It might be the proximity to ABC, or it might be frustration with the lack of bicycle infrastructure that we see in the city (especially as compared to new car infrastructure or pedestrian bridges), but we have turned from serious bicycle enthusiasts to serious bicycle advocates. Sure, we could say we’ve always been advocates, but this time we decided to kick it up a notch…by pitching a tactical pilot project for Dekalb Ave to the Renew Atlanta team and to the City of Atlanta. We are delighted to say that it was well received as a concept, but now is time for the rubber to hit the road. Literally. Read more

Thoughts on Incremental Infill: How to Get More of What We Love

Recently, we have had the pleasure of presenting at a number of forums including the annual GPA conference, a ULI/CNU Small Summit, and the MicroLife Institute’s Innovative Housing Summit. We have used these great opportunities to dig into some concepts we’ve been contemplating for a long time, focusing specifically on the need for more housing in our most beloved communities. Read more

Our Top 10 Wishlist for Encouraging Small Development in Atlanta

We had the honor of being part of a symposium for Atlanta’s Historic Westside yesterday, which was put on by the Westside Future Fund, CNU and the Chick-fil-A Foundation. The symposium focused on bringing together an array of stakeholders involved in the Westside to have honest discussions around community wealth creation, equitable development and historic preservation.

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Decatur Tiny House Festival

Curious about owning an ADU? Kronberg Wall Architects has partnered with local designers and builders to create the ATL ADU CO, a complete design/build/deliver service. The ATL ADU CO offers several ADU designs that meet a variety of price points, space needs, and site conditions, and our team of experts provide step-by-step guidance to buyers. Learn more at www.atladuco.com, or email us at info@atladuco.com.

We enjoyed the opportunity to share our thoughts on ADUs at the Decatur Tiny House Festival this past weekend. For those who couldn’t make it and are interested in learning more about why we give a hoot and what we’re doing about it, click below to download our presentation.

Link to KWA Tiny House Presentation

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Understanding ADA: A Guide for Small Developers

We recently had the pleasure of presenting some of our latest research on the Americans with Disabilities Act at CNU in Seattle. The ADA is an important part of our built environment, and we firmly believe that architecture and public spaces should be accessible for everyone. Sometimes, however, the ADA requirements can be financially onerous on small developers of buildings built before the ADA was law.

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ADU Update + Call to Action!

Curious about owning an ADU? Kronberg Wall Architects has partnered with local designers and builders to create the ATL ADU CO, a complete design/build/deliver service. The ATL ADU CO offers several ADU designs that meet a variety of price points, space needs, and site conditions, and our team of experts provide step-by-step guidance to buyers. Learn more at www.atladuco.com, or email us at info@atladuco.com.

If you’re wondering what happened to our ADU dreams, you’ll be happy to hear that we have been working diligently over the past few months to make them a reality. First, we are wrapping up construction document sets for our two ADU prototypes and hope to have final pricing on these in the next few weeks. Stay tuned! Second, we have been working with the city to revise the R-5 zoning legislation to allow ADUs as-of-right, in addition to the already allowed Guest Houses (check out the map or the City of Atlanta website to see where R-5 zoning exists). The proposed zoning changes passed ZRB last night and will now move on to the City Council Zoning Committee for review. Read on to find out the specifics of the zoning changes and how you can help make sure they happen! And if you’re still unclear on the benefits of ADUs / why we think this is important legislation, check out our previous post.

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ADUs: Looking for Good Homes

UPDATE: The ATL ADU CO now has its own website! A complete design/build/deliver service, the ATL ADU CO offers several designs that meet a variety of price points, space needs, and site conditions, and our team of experts provide step-by-step guidance to buyers. Learn more at www.atladuco.com, or email us at info@atladuco.com.

If our last cliffhanger post didn’t get you pumped about ADUs, let’s hope this one can deliver. As mentioned in the previous post, we are excited to announce our very own ADU design / build /deliver service. We have designed two prototypes (floor plans and renderings shown above) and have done our due diligence on codes, constraints, financing and delivery methods. All of that to say, if you like what you see, you could have one of these in your backyard very soon!

Interested to know more?

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A Market Solution for Affordable Housing: ADUs

UPDATE: The ATL ADU CO now has its own website! A complete design/build/deliver service, the ATL ADU CO offers several designs that meet a variety of price points, space needs, and site conditions, and our team of experts provide step-by-step guidance to buyers. Learn more at www.atladuco.com, or email us at info@atladuco.com.

We have some exciting developments taking place at Kronberg Wall, and I mean that literally. We are flexing our development muscles as we aim to launch our newest branch of design expertise: Accessory Dwelling Units. What does it all mean? Well, the short of it is: we see a problem, and instead of waiting around for a solution, we are going to create one.

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IOR IN FULL SWING

KWA is back at it in New Orleans, with the latest Iberville Offsite Rehabilitation development underway. If you’re unfamiliar with the project, check out this previous post and this video for some background information.

The hard-at-work lady in the before and after photographs (yours truly) went from sweaty summer as-built visits in 2015 to mild winter construction administration visits in 2016/2017 (shout out to global warming). In the time period between these visits, the IOR team has dedicated their various skills to the rehabilitation of 16 historic single family homes in the Treme neighborhood into 30 new affordable housing units. The transformation that has taken place in these houses over the past year and a half is tremendous, and we are so excited to see them become homes very soon. We are very proud to be doing this important work in New Orleans, and we can’t wait to see these houses finished later this year!

Good Gracious! we sure do love the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

biker group pic

Rebecca Serna, Executive Director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, was featured on the latest Good Gracious Podcast. We are lucky enough to be within one flight of stairs of the great crew at ABC and are so glad for their energy here and around the city. Rebecca talks about challenges, goals, upcoming projects (30+ miles of bike lanes in the pipeline!), events (Atlanta Streets Alive in September!), tips (biking and MARTA! fix-it stations!) and more. Give it a listen!

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The good and bad news about walkability

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We really enjoyed Kaid Benfield’s latest article on walkability (particularly the part where “Atlanta architect Eric Bethany” was quoted from a previous blog post!) and encourage all of our readers to give it some thought. The good news? Demand for walkability is up. The bad news? Our regulations have not yet caught up. Read on for a recap and commentary. And for more KWA thoughts on walkability and Kaid Benfield, check this article out. Read more

Code Hack: Tiny Houses in Atlanta

 

Midtown Carriage House

There’s a lot of buzz about tiny houses right now, and as advocates for increased housing diversity and affordability, we thought it only right to jump into the conversation. Because we are based in Atlanta, and because tiny houses are not allowed under current zoning in Atlanta, we decided to search for a quick solution to get tiny houses in the mix right now. Why would we wait for our ordinances to be amended if we could find an interim code hack!?

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The Importance of Live/Work

Because we understand how difficult redevelopment can be, we’ve spent a lot of time and brain power researching ways to make it easier. One of the best tools we’ve discovered is utilizing the Live/Work occupancy classification, which provides great project flexibility and viability, as demonstrated in our previous post on Main Street Redevelopment. Click on to read the in-depth commentary and limitations on Live/Work, and be sure to thank CNU for lobbying the ICC to create the Live/Work section of the code!

peabody_live_work

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Small Developer Renovation Research

Before After_for Blog

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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Thoughts from a Great Community Zoning Outreach Meeting

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I had the pleasure of attending one of the City of Atlanta Zoning outreach meetings this past Tuesday.  It really was a pleasure, and very encouraging to see the various political faces in the room, both elected officials and community volunteers.  This is generally the happy time of outreach, when big ideas are discussed in broad brush strokes.  This type of outreach is critical, but it does not guarantee that things won’t devolve into a complete turf war when it comes time to talk details about things like parking or specific locations on the zoning map. Read more

Form Follows Finance

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Reflections on the Small Developer Bootcamp continued…as seen by Elizabeth Ward.

Architects all know the phrase “form follows function.” It is burned into our brains at a young age: the modernist principle shunning aesthetics for aesthetics’ sake and praising the simplicity of functionality. The term was coined by famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, who is credited with the development of the skyscraper. But the form of the skyscraper was not merely following function; these tall buildings were shaped by a host of outside forces, including significant economic growth following the Civil War, increasingly intense demands on urban land and the advent of new technologies.

But what exactly does “form follow finance,” a term we heard repeatedly at the Bootcamp, really mean? Form has always followed finance, in some capacity, but the legal and financial regulations of the 20thcentury have led to finance actually dictating our built environment. Read more

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