A Design + Culture Blog

Urban Space

I’m so glad I live in an Atlanta where there are Biketobers

Kronberg Wall – Biketober Results

When October 1st rolls around, most people dust off their flannel shirts and flock to the nearest source of pumpkin spice coffee drinks. But to cyclists in Atlanta, October 1st marks the beginning of Biketober – a friendly (sometimes fierce) annual competition sponsored by Georgia Commute Options where coworkers and friends team up, track, and tally their bike rides for the entire month. This year Kronberg Wall decided to join the challenge, and after braving heat and hills, rain and wind, and one cold snap, I thought I’d share why we couldn’t be happier about leaving our cars behind.

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KW Blog Turns Five – A Look Back at Our Favorite Posts

Today marks the five-year anniversary of our very first blog post. To mark the occasion, we took a look back at over 100 posts to select the ten(ish) posts that we think everyone should read. The posts cover a wide range of topics, including design, mobility, housing choice, and redevelopment. We think of the blog as our laboratory – a place to post things that we are working on, learning about, and debating in the office. A lot of these posts started that way – as conversations in the office. Our knowledge and thinking on these topics has grown and evolved over time, but these selected posts capture the highlights and topics we get asked about the most.

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PORTLAND YIMBYs, AND SO CAN YOU

Bayside Variety, Portland Maine (credit: John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons)

We had the pleasure of visiting Portland, Maine this week to help launch the development advocacy organization YIMBY Portland. YIMBY (Yes In My BackYard) is a nationwide movement of people coming together to support development, often to specifically advocate for the expansion of housing options in our cities. (And yes, we think “YIMBY” should also be a verb.) The event saw concerned citizens and advocates come together from a wide range of backgrounds to learn about and discuss the challenges facing this great city. In addition to some place-specific challenges, many of the barriers standing in the way of a vibrant, equitable, and prosperous Portland also plague many other cities across the US. Using Portland as a lens, we were brought in to illuminate these issues and discuss strategies for overcoming regulatory and development obstacles.

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Making Affordable Housing Cute Again

English Ave Site Strategies

Atlanta has many charming historic Missing Middle Housing types, and we even have a new Missing Middle Housing zoning category to encourage more of it (more on MR-MU later). Atlanta also has many abandoned not-so-charming apartment buildings. While their lack of architectural charm leaves them overlooked, these are important to our city’s housing supply. Why? They, too, are Missing Middle Housing. They, too, are historic. And most importantly: they already exist, making them more affordable to renovate than to build new.

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Durham Leads the Way for Housing Choice and Zoning Reform

The mayor of Durham acts on his promises and paves the way for city leadership.

“Zoning reform isn’t magical, but it’s crucial.” So said Mayor Steve Schewel of Durham, NC in a stirring speech given earlier this month before he voted to support Durham’s landmark zoning reform, Expanding Housing Choices (EHC). After a two-year long community process, the city has voted to approve updates to their Unified Development Ordinance that will enable more housing choices in their most walkable neighborhoods.

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A Tale of Two Bridges: Infrastructure and Equity

Urbanists in Atlanta and around the country are tearing their hair out after discovering the Northside Drive pedestrian bridge at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium came with a $33 million price tag – a figure the City has since disputed. Coinciding with budget shortfalls in the Renew Atlanta bond program, this prioritization illustrates the disparity between public funding for flashy projects and basic city infrastructure like sidewalks and multimodal streets. The shiny new bridge, a twisting collection of concrete and metal meant to funnel walkers over a six-lane car sewer, appears to some as a beacon of progress. For us, it is a glaring reminder that the Atlanta is often not built to foster equity.

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Lessons from Market Street

Some will recognize the image above as a still from the film “A Trip Down Market Street”, shot in 1906 in San Francisco by Harry Miles. Notable for capturing images of San Francisco only days before much of the city was destroyed by earthquake and fire, the film also depicts the American streetscape as it was before the private automobile became the dominant form of transportation.

The freedom of travel and vibrant street life on display is a world apart from today’s urban streetscapes: streetcars, horsedrawn carriages, cars, pedestrians, and cyclists move across an open, shared streetscape, unconstrained by lanes, speed limits, or stoplights. It’s a snapshot of an urban streetscape before private cars became the dominant form of transportation. For today’s urbanists, the democratic design of Market Street contains a lesson that can, and should, be reincorporated into today’s cities: a streetscape that gave each mode of transportation equal claim to the public right of way.

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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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Atlanta Streets Alive: Help Us Advocate for Complete Streets!

KWA and ABC’s vision for a complete Dekalb Ave

Come see us on Sunday at Streets Alive! We’ll be stationed on Dekalb Ave, right in front of Lloyd’s Lounge, showing off a demonstration of what a Complete Dekalb Ave could look like and talkin’ urbanism. Before you head over, take a look at our post from February about improvements to Dekalb Ave, and don’t miss the PDF presentation on tactical improvements to Dekalb Ave.

Finally, if you (like us) feel strongly that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements to Dekalb Ave should be a top priority for city investment in 2020, head to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s website and join their support campaign. Go the extra mile and send a letter of support to your councilperson – ABC has a template on their campaign page.

 

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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Georgia Power’s Housing Conversation

We are so thankful for the opportunity to share our thoughts on housing challenges facing communities across the state and nation.  Georgia Power did a great job bringing people in from across the state to listen to a range of thoughts and ideas.  Housing challenges are present in both the largest cities and the smallest towns. At first glance, the housing challenges faced by these communities seems exceedingly unique. Rather than focusing on the differences, however, we see the commonality between each community’s individual struggles.

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Unpacking the Pilot Project’s Prototype Pieces

In our previous post, we provided an example of how small-scale infill could work within a few house lots to provide a dynamic range of housing choices.  We are now going to break down the components parts of this design.

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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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ABCs of ADUs Recap + Presentation Download

A packed house at KWA HQ! photo credit: Terry Kearns

Last night’s ABCs of ADUs event was a huge success! Thanks to everyone who came out to learn more about ADUs and Tiny Homes, and a special thanks to Will and the Microlife Institute for co-hosting the event with us.

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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

Historic Tax Credits and Georgia

Kronberg Wall HQ in Reynoldstown, Atlanta, completed in 2015. We were able to renovate the historic Bearden Temple AME Church with the help of state and federal tax credits.

We’ve been working on multiple projects lately that are dependent on Historic Renovation Tax Credits (HTC) to help cover the increased cost of historically compatible renovations. Currently, there is a federal tax credit, and Georgia is one of the states that also offers a state tax credit.  Combining state and federal credits becomes a powerful financial tool to help make difficult projects possible. Through our experience with HTC’s over the years – and some recent changes – we’ve developed some thoughts on how the system could be adjusted to work for projects that have different scales and available resources.

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Housing, Trees and Zoning Changes

The City of Atlanta is working hard on another update to our zoning ordinance. It’s another round of Quick Fixes to address smaller tweaks to areas that should not be overly controversial. However, you never know what is going to trigger resistance and outrage when discussing modifications to property rights.

One of the surprising areas of contention is a push to strike the provision allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in the R-4 zoning category. A lot of the resistance to this change is coming from various groups that think this new provision will result in the clear cutting of a lot of Atlanta’s amazing tree canopy.

We are going to break down some of these zoning terms to hopefully shed some light on things…

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When Not to ADU?

There are a lot of reasons to build an ADU, and a lot of reasons to do this sooner than later.  There is one time that is less than ideal though- when you don’t have an income.

This may seem obvious, but it matters for folks thinking through Aging in Place strategies.  An ADU is a great way to be able to afford to stay in your neighborhood as you consider retirement, offering several options.  The first stage could be having supplemental rental income while you stay in your house, helping to defray property taxes and other costs.  Later, it offers the chance for you to rent out your main house, while downsizing into your ADU.  This allows you to keep a foothold in your community, greatly reducing or eliminating your housing costs, and providing freedom to travel the world.

If you plan to finance your ADU, your bank or mortgage broker will have a much easier time getting the loan approved if you still have an income.  Loan appraisers often struggle to properly value a proposed ADU, which means they may significantly undervalue it, or give it no value at all.  An undervalued appraisal can easily sink a loan approval.

Getting your ADU financed and constructed before retiring is exceedingly important for folks that don’t have easy access to all the cash necessary to pay for their ADU out of pocket. Food for thought.

AARP, ADUs and You

We just had the chance to participate in an amazing roundtable discussing ADU policy in Washington, DC hosted by AARP.  Why is AARP bringing people to DC to talk about ADUs?  AARP has spent a solid 20 plus years advocating for housing choice as an important way for people to age in place in their communities, and realizes that ADU play a really important role in providing this choice.  Their website has a wealth of resources for folks interested in learning more.

What do we mean by housing choice?  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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Cultivating Your Farm

One of many blighted homes returned to working order as part of the award-winning Renewal Homes project in New Orleans.

We spend a lot of time working with the Incremental Development Alliance training folks to be small developers. One of our many goals is to help build community wealth through infill housing at a scale compatible with traditional neighborhoods, also known as Missing Middle Housing. This is housing that fits within a single-family neighborhood, but with more units than a single family home. This might be a home with an accessory dwelling unit, a duplex, fourplex, maybe even a six or eight plex.

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8 FEATURES THAT MAKE PARSONS ALLEY WORK

We hear that the City of Duluth is enjoying the ongoing revitalization of their historic downtown, which includes KWA’s work at Parsons Alley (recent recipient of a 2017 ULI Development of Excellence Award and CNU Charter Award). Like a lot of Atlanta suburbs, Duluth is experiencing rapid growth. The City recognized a need to grow and strengthen their core downtown to be an amenity for residents and to establish Duluth as a Place with its own identity – not just another suburb of Atlanta.
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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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La France Walk: Looking Back and Thinking Forward

La France Walk is a new walkable pocket community in the intown Atlanta neighborhood of Edgewood. Learn more at www.lafrancewalk.com or on Facebook.

We’ve had a lot of time to think through housing challenges and opportunities facing Atlanta. La France Walk is a unique chance to explore this issue firsthand. From the beginning, the core question for La France Walk has been, “How do you create a place, and what type of housing would that place include?” – or from a technical standpoint,  “What is the most appropriate type of housing to build on a site adjacent to a heavy rail transit station and surrounded by a two-family zoned neighborhood with a single-family feel?”

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WATCH KWA’S NEW VIDEO ON BICYCLING AND PLACEMAKING!

 

 

For this installment in our Placemaking video series, we teamed up with some of Atlanta’s foremost cycling advocates and experts to discuss how investing in cycling infrastructure helps to create great places. Thanks to Breck Prewitt of Ground Game Media for the great work!

 

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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So You’re Running for Office…

Dignified Missing Middle housing and single family housing coexisting peacefully in Candler Park, Atlanta, a stone’s throw from a thriving commercial node and a 10-minute walk from a heavy rail station.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a young, hopeful person who has decided to run for city council.  This candidate has focused on issues of inclusion and equity as cornerstone principles.  While I fully support these principles in the abstract, I want to know immediately what specific policies would be rolled out to promote these goals.   I treasure these opportunities to change minds and dismantle perceptions and expectations.  It also gives me a chance to work through theories bouncing around in my head in real time as well.

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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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Interview: Incremental Development with John Anderson and Eric Kronberg

At Kronberg Wall, we view incremental development as a key path to equitable and meaningful neighborhood revitalization. Robert Stueteville of the CNU Public Square blog recently spoke with KWA’s Eric Kronberg and John Anderson of the Incremental Development Alliance about how they define incremental development and why they feel it should play a central role in the ongoing conversation on neighborhood development. Read the full interview – and many other great posts – at the CNU Public Square blog.

ADU Math

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.

One of the things that gets us most excited about ADUs is the financial math.  Here’s why.  Cities across the nation are struggling to find ways to provide more affordable housing to meet growing demand, both little ‘a’ affordable housing and big ‘A’ Affordable Housing.  Little ‘a’ housing is often also called workforce housing.  This housing is intended to be accessible to people making up to 80% of the area median income (AMI in housing speak).  Housing for police, firefighters, teachers, recent college grads with a lot of student debt.  For Atlanta, this translates into monthly rents of $764 for an efficiency, $820 for a one bedroom, and $949 for a two bedroom.

Let’s talk about approximate costs for the ADUs we are designing.  While we are still working through costing with our builder, we are expecting that the one bedroom version should cost somewhere between $95,000-$115,000 depending on specific site conditions.  The two bedroom is expecting to cost somewhere between $125,000-$145,000.  These numbers are the all-in cost.  Design, permitting, construction, utility hookups, etc. etc. are included in these numbers.

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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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Community Engagement 101 for Small Developers

We spend the vast majority of our time at KW working on projects that will make communities better.  For us, “better” means more inclusive and more connected, with more access to housing and services.  Our efforts typically come through private and/or public investment and development.  This means we spend a significant amount of time at community meetings discussing and negotiating approvals for our projects. As a small developer trying to do the right thing (i.e. trying build a project that improves a community and is more than a single-family house), you will inevitably need a variance or rezoning.  This typically requires some form of pubic approval.

If we were ever to write a how-to book, it would probably be on the topic of public engagement for architects and developers.  Proper community engagement is an art form that requires a significant amount of knowledge. It typically involves having a close understanding of the specific neighborhood: the hopes, dreams, challenges, and realistic assessments as to how our project does or does not fit into this matrix of place.  Understanding these dynamics takes a great investment of time on our part.

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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!

Affordable Housing: Not If, but How

Affordable housing is now and will continue to be an exceedingly important and challenging need for cities across the nation, and Atlanta is no exception.   More and more people are looking to live closer to where they work, live, learn, and play.  We have a very limited amount of land that qualifies as walkable urban, and not even all of that has access to MARTA rail.  This scarce resource is rapidly becoming more expensive as a large and growing number of people compete for the limited amount of available housing.  The Beltline is sparking further demand, speculation, hope, and price appreciation as single-family homes and commercial properties become more desirable within this hoped-for walkability.

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On Selling Missing Middle Housing to Communities

candler-park

The Candler Park neighborhood in Atlanta features a popular one-block commercial node surrounded by mostly pre-WWII residential development. Many Missing Middle buildings that blend seamlessly with single family homes can be found within a five or ten minute walk from the restaurants and shops. (photos: Kronberg Wall)

We spend a lot of time talking about Missing Middle Housing and its critical role in developing healthy and inclusive neighborhoods. Discussing the theory and design behind Missing Middle Housing is essential, but we also need to consider the hands-on process of making these projects real. One major step in this process is selling Missing Middle Housing to the public – especially those that live near the project site. We are actively rezoning properties in Atlanta to Missing Middle pocket neighborhood development – and this gives us firsthand feedback on how communities perceive the benefits of these housing options, as well as the fears these projects generate.

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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

untitled

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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“Missing Middle” Housing is the Topic for July’s CNU T3 Event

An example of a cottage court in Berkeley, CA.

An example of a cottage court in Berkeley, CA.

The topic for this month’s CNU T3 event, happening Thursday, July 21, at 5:30pm in the KWA office, is “Tiny Houses & The Missing Middle: What’s the Big Deal?” With a host of other excellent speakers, our own Eric Kronberg will take an in-depth look at what Daniel Parolek calls America’s “missing middle” housing, the benefits of implementing this type of housing in urban areas like Atlanta, and the specific challenges to doing so in local neighborhoods. For now, take a look at the brief overview below, and get stoked for next week. Read more

CNU 24 Wrapup

A busy summer has us going full tilt at KWA HQ in Reynoldstown, but we did want to take a moment to recall last month’s Congress of the New Urbanism in Detroit. The very talented individuals at Placemakers did a knock out job summarizing the event on their blog. Click here to see their post – whether you were there or not, an important read for those who care about the development of functional and healthy urban environments. Thanks to Placemakers for the great post and to all CNU 24 speakers! We can’t wait for Seattle.

KWA Residential Renovation Featured in Kitchen & Bath Business

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Kitchen and Bath Business featured a recent KWA residential renovation project in their May/June 2016 issue. Located in Decatur, the project entailed the renewal of the kitchen of the main house and the design of an accessory dwelling unit on the property complete with full kitchen and bathroom. Click here to read more. Thanks to Carrie Whitney of Pennhouse Productions for the great writeup and Fredrik Brauer for the excellent photography!

LISTEN: ERIC KRONBERG ON THE GOOD GRACIOUS PODCAST

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Boyd Baker from the Good Gracious Show to talk about making better, more connected neighborhoods.  My goal is to break down how transportation choices, zoning, parking, and other “under-the-hood” things have an outsized impact on how we live our lives, and the happiness we derive from them. Click here to listen to the conversation.

April CNU T3 Recap

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Heather Alhadeff adresses the CNU T3 crowd assembled at KW’s Reynoldstown office last Thursday (image: Paul Lorenc)

UPDATE: We’ve uploaded the presentations given at the April CNU T3 for anyone to view. Click here to view and download the presentations.

KWA was excited to host another successful CNU Atlanta event last Thursday night. This month’s T3 topic focused on “Streets Designed for Placemaking & Safety.”

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KWA Welcomes the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to Bearden Temple AME Church!

ABC_Logo_Horizontal-01We are very excited to announce that the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition will soon be our downstairs neighbors in the decommissioned Bearden Temple AME Church in Reynoldstown! As reported by the Saporta Report, the ABC outgrew its current space in Cabbagetown and has been seeking a larger office to house their growing staff. We couldn’t be more excited to share the building with an organization that also champions the use of alternative means of transportation and the improvement of Atlanta’s non-auto transportation infrastructure. Learn more about the building here, and be sure to keep an eye out for future KWA and ABC events!

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Placemaking & the Project for Public Spaces

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We edited this excellent diagram by the folks at the Project for Public Spaces to highlight qualities we consider most relevant and important to us as placemaking-focused architects (image: PPS)

It’s no secret that we at Kronberg Wall are big on placemaking. We strive to create designs that are conscious of their context and respond sensitively to their surroundings. We also believe that great places, while largely defined by their buildings, are not solely the result of good architecture. Great public places, ones that encourage interactions between people as well as between people and their environment, happen when a collection of disciplines work together. With that being said, it is important to note that ‘bad architecture,’ meaning buildings that are not context-sensitive, can be a huge impediment to placemaking, killing any potential a site might have.

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Zoning Codes 101: Form-Based Codes

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Walkable neighborhoods with diverse uses like this one in Newport, Rhode Island are impossible to cultivate under typical zoning codes; form-based codes and the Existing Building Code help to combat sprawl by preserving historic nodes and removing suburban development limitations like parking requirements (image credit: Center for Applied Transect Studies)

This is a continuation of a previous post on the Transect which you may find helpful to read before this one.

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Build a Better Burb Reflections

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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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Atlanta Zoning Maps

1929 Atlanta Zoning Map

Thanks to Caleb Racicot from TSW and Kyle Kessler from the Center for Civic Innovation we now have access to digital versions of several original Atlanta zoning maps. While working hard on our Atlanta Zoning rewrite, Caleb had a chance to spend some time analyzing an original copy of our 1929 Atlanta zoning map. He took the time to photograph and stitch it all together so there is a high resolution version available for sharing.

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Edgewood Retail District 15 years in, Leggett + Platt, Jeff Fuqua

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The Edgewood Retail District in Atlanta, Georgia

This is a post on reflections and lessons learned, and an effort to provide insight and guidance to the Reynoldstown community as they negotiate with Jeff Fuqua on the rezoning of the Leggett and Platt site. It is also a chance for me to collect and organize my thoughts on one of the most transformative urban redevelopment projects in my neighborhood (Edgewood) fifteen years in.

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ZONING CODES 101: THE TRANSECT

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Dallas, TX: can you identify the transect zones visible in this picture? image: wikipedia

If you’ve ever driven fifty or miles in any direction away from downtown Atlanta, then you’ve experienced firsthand the central concept behind the form-based codes devised and promoted by the New Urbanist school of planning: the Transect. The concept is so central to New Urbanism that it’s rarely discussed in detail at meetings and in presentations, preventing the uninitiated from reaching a critical level of understanding. Let’s take a moment to dive into the Transect so you can do more than nod your head and smile at the next CNU meeting.

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SEE KWA’S DESIGNS FOR DULUTH’S DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT

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Site plan and perspective drawings showing several new buildings designed by Kronberg Wall Architects for the redevelopment of downtown Duluth, Georgia.

Located in Gwinett County, Duluth is a popular developed suburb of Atlanta with a diverse population of around 30,000. KWA, working with local developers Vantage Realty Partners and Fabric Developers, recently completed exterior designs for a multi-building redevelopment of Duluth’s downtown area. The project, which includes two 60-year old granite buildings, aims to incorporate twelve new commercial tenant spaces into Duluth’s existing downtown commercial district. Special attention was paid to site elements designed to promote walkability and enhance pedestrian experience.

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WATCH: PECHA KUCHA @ KWA

Back in October we hosted the opening night of the Small Developer Bootcamp here at KWA HQ in Reyndoldstown. Highlighting the evening were rapid-fire Pecha Kucha presentations from small developers and urban thinkers including Atlanta CNU President Geoff Koski, KWA’s own Eric Kronberg, and Johnny Sanphilllippo of the Granola Shotgun blog. We highly recommend taking a few moments to watch these short presentations. To make things easier, we’ve listed the start times of each speech below. Thanks to our friend Breck Prewitt at Ground Game Media for recording the event.

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Thoughts on our current stormwater management policy

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On this rainy February morning we were disappointed to not find the display of dramatic raging stormwater overflow, flooded pathways, and comically overwhelmed drains that Atlanta residents have come to expect due to shortsighted stormwater management practices. Intelligent planning enables the Historic Fourth Ward Park to handle additional stormwater with ease.

I enjoyed a very wet drive dropping my daughters off at school this morning.  The ground was already fully saturated before the current rainstorm, so there was significant runoff in the streets and creeks on the East side of Atlanta and South Decatur.  One road was impassible from an overflowing creek, others just very, very wet. All of this lead me to mull on our current stormwater policies in for Atlanta and Decatur.  Read more

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

Popcorn Time: Placemaking 101

We spend a lot of time talking about the specifics of placemaking – parking regulations, zoning ordinances, code clauses – but these are all pieces of a bigger picture. We find that before diving into the details, it is critical to understand the macro concepts behind placemaking. If you’re interested in creating great urban places, grab some popcorn (or a turkey sandwich) and take a look the videos below, the first of which are from our friends at Strong Towns, who do an excellent job of summing up these big ideas behind successful placemaking endeavors.

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Big Picture Zoning Thoughts

The City of Atlanta has engaged consultants to tackle a re-writing of our zoning ordinance.  This is a highly political process for any city.  Most current zoning ordinances are a combination of good intentions producing bad outcomes for most places, and Atlanta’s ordinance is no exception.  It is important to think about positive examples of places that we love, and work backwards to allow those places to be legally built without special hurdles.  It is also important to be aware that there are a range of these seemingly innocent under the hood items that result in bad outcomes for our neighborhoods.  In an effort of transparency and sharing information, we’ve put together this blog post to outline our current thinking on a range of issues.  This will be somewhat policy heavy, so you’ve been warned.

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ICYMI: Eric Kronberg Interview in Curbed Atlanta

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Eric Kronberg (left) and Adam Wall of Kronberg Wall architects during the open house event celebrating the opening of KWA’s new office in a renovated church in Reynoldstown.

In a profile published last week by Curbed Atlanta, KWA’s Eric Kronberg discussed where he got his start as a designer, his thoughts on the creation of enjoyable urban spaces, and how he sees Atlanta’s urban evolution. Great read for anyone concerned about Atlanta’s design future, adaptive reuse architecture, or the development of walkable, bikeable, affordable and enjoyable urban spaces. You can find the article on the Curbed Atlanta site here.

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

Big Reflections on Small Development

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On October 14th, more than one hundred architects, engineers, developers, and community leaders gathered at the Center for Civic Innovation in downtown Atlanta for the Small Developer’s Bootcamp, hosted by the Atlanta Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, the Georgia Conservancy, and Kronberg Wall Architects. This diverse group of individuals was on hand to hear two small-scale development experts – R. John Anderson and Jim Kumon – discuss the practicalities of development that fall within the “missing middle” spectrum: buildings in between the single family home and the looming apartment multiplex. Throughout the day-long workshop, topics ranged from efficient floor plans and building design to loan types and financial negotiation tactics.

The room was full of seasoned developers and designers well-versed in the vocabulary and methods of real estate development, but also present were a large number of newcomers for whom the Bootcamp was a whiplash introduction to the development world.
Three of those newcomers just starting their careers as professional designers at Kronberg Wall – Eric Bethany, Sanaa Shaikh, and Elizabeth Ward – took some time to reflect on the concepts and ideas from the Bootcamp that resonated most with them.

Read more for Eric Bethany’s thoughts on the demystification of the development process – check back later this week for more reflections.

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Small builder/developer bootcamp

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While these photos include buildings probably dating from the 1920s, we are not necessarily promoting a historic style. Moreso that apartments built in the 1960s are usually so amazingly ugly, and that zoning laws from that general time period made buildings like these illegal in most communities from that point forward.

I’ve been spending a lot of time mulling on both the small developer/builder Facebook group and the upcoming small builder/developer bootcamp coming to Atlanta. Part of the conundrum I have been trying to get my head around is this: what is a reasonable combination of experience, scale, and location that fits a small developer? We work primarily in Atlanta, with most of our clients being seasoned developers. We tackle really messy, hard projects, and we see countless ways that a newbie can get put through the buzzsaw, and quickly. However, we are seeing that there are folks involved in the industry – architects that design these projects, residential and commercial property brokers, and builders – that have experience with some, but not all, of the pieces needed to do their own deal.

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In Praise of the Existing Building Code

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KWA recently helped convert this historic church rectory into an extension for the Ecole Bilingue in New Orleans. Without the flexibility afforded by the IEBC, updating this century-old building would have been far too costly for the school.

We are very big fans of the International Existing Building Code. This is a very special code that allows for flexibility in renovating and reusing existing buildings. One major challenge with any new code is that existing buildings often don’t meet new requirements. Retrofitting existing buildings to meet these new requirements is generally a more expensive process than constructing a new building. The unfortunate outcome of this process is that useful existing buildings are frequently left fallow and blighted because it is not worth the brain damage and added cost to bring the building up to current codes. Think about that for a minute: these are buildings (often historic) with tremendous intrinsic value that have been standing and functioning for over a hundred years, but are technically unusable according to current building codes.

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KWA Back at Work in New Orleans

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We are really excited to be digging into another Iberville Offsite Rehabilitation redevelopment.  For those that aren’t familiar with this, it is a historic, affordable, accessible, sustainable housing redevelopment in the Treme and Seventh Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana. Our last IOR series was awarded a National Trust Award for the best historic and affordable housing project in the nation for 2014 and the CNU Grand Prize Award for 2015.

Our client, Redmellon Redevelopment, put together a great video on the process, which you can see here.

CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS OF THE KWA OFFICE IN REYNOLDSTOWN

 

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It’s been over a month since we moved into our new office in Reynoldstown, and we’re now comfortably settled in. The very talented Fredrik Brauer stopped by to shoot some photos after the move-in chaos calmed down, and we’re excited to share the results with you below! A big thank you to Fredrik for the photos – we recommend that you take a moment to view more of his work on his website.

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LISTEN: Eric Kronberg Interviewed on Atlanta’s Business

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Over the weekend Eric Kronberg sat down with Jeff Davis, host of 1160 AM’s Atlanta’s Business, to discuss how parking regulations effect endeavors in placemaking by making it more difficult to foster walkability, bikeability, and affordability. For those who didn’t hear the original broadcast, the interview is available here.

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Read: Richard Willson, “Case against Minimum Parking Requirements”

In a recent post, we referenced Richard Willson’s book Parking Reform Made Easy, specifically the second chapter, “Case against Minimum Parking Requirements.” We have yet to find a more complete summary of the detrimental effects of legally-mandated parking, an issue that we and many other architects and planners believe is central to the pursuit of creating more enjoyable and sustainable urban environments. Willson and Island Press were kind enough to grant us permission to share this chapter, in the hopes that access to these ideas might increase understanding of how parking requirements undermine nearly every positive aspect of urban space. We encourage you to read Willson’s book in its entirety; it can be found at http://www.islandpress.org/parking-reform-made-easy.

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Wylie Street Open House Was a Huge Success!

 

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Our new office on Wylie street is nothing if not versatile: before we make it our official new home, we turned this historic church on Wylie Street into a music and party venue! Kronberg Wall spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon with friends, family, and our new Reynoldstown neighbors, with food from Oakhurst Market, a jump castle courtesy of Jump N Partei, music from Cadillac Jones and Sleep the Owls, and bike racks from the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for those who arrived on two wheels. It was great to put our new space to use and make friends in the community that we’re excited to be joining very soon! Thanks to all those who helped to make the party happen!

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The Pope Agrees: Parking is Killing our Cities

ELC Adjacent 01 Reconfiguring a dormant four-way stop to create active public space

We talk about parking a lot, which is a bit weird for architects. Most visitors to this blog would expect to find posts about awesome curtain wall design, or maybe some cool cantilevered something or other. If we were focused on bright, shiny objects, that might make sense; however, we care more about helping to strengthen communities and neighborhoods—and intelligent parking is key to a functional community. Honestly, we don’t see a lot of communities that suffer from a lack of abundance of bright, shiny objects. What we do notice is a range of old and underutilized buildings, crappy parking lots, poor streetscape design resulting from past road widenings, and bad infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. We respond by designing resourceful, often gritty buildings that engage the street and add to the value of the community. We view each project as a chance to repair the damaged link between people and the urban environment they build for themselves.

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First Steps in Commercial Redevelopment:
Baseline Site Study

ELC4_Site PlanWhen meeting with new clients, we are often asked what the first step is in our design process.  We are typically called on to investigate repurposing old buildings in urban environments.  For the vast majority of these projects, our initial task is a baseline site study.  This study is an examination of a site to determine several key items: how much space is required for streetscape (sidewalks, street trees, street furniture), how much parking can fit, and how the building engages the site and street.

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VIDEO: PLACEMAKING V. PARKING

In case you missed it…

Check out a video of Eric’s presentation on Placemaking v. Parking, given at CNU’s T3 Event on April 16th.

Special thanks to co-presenter Heather Alhadeff of Center Forward, and to Ground Game Media for the video coverage.

For more information check out our series on Placemaking v. Parking.

[Part 1 – Perceptions and Expectations]
[Part 2 – New Orleans and Atlanta]

SMALL HOUSES NEED LOVE TOO

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A major part of maintaining and promoting healthy communities is finding ways to maximize the existing housing stock. Many neighborhoods in Atlanta have an abundance of post-WWII housing. These houses tend to be small, and efficient. Often they have two bedrooms and only a single bathroom. There is nothing inherently wrong with this layout, but progress demands that the housing stock be upgraded to keep up with contemporary society. We have helped many families brainstorm how to re-configure these houses over the years. One couple wanted to stay in their neighborhood and start a family, another owner wanted to expand so that he and his partner could stay in a neighborhood they love, while increasing their overall level of comfort.

Recently, some close friends approached us about downsizing. They no longer need their 5 bedroom house in Decatur. They cashed out and purchased one of these post-war houses. It’s an admirable exercise in “right-sizing,” as they try to determine the best way to alter their new home to fit their family of four.

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PLACEMAKING v. PARKING (PART 2)
NEW ORLEANS AND ATLANTA

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As an office based in Atlanta, we’ve often daydreamed about what we could build, if only we weren’t so preoccupied with parking requirements. Recently, work in New Orleans gave us the opportunity, to reflect on the nature of parking in Atlanta. The New Orleans Jazz Market is the conversion of an historic 11,000 SF urban market into a purpose-built Jazz performance hall. Originally built in 1849 as a market, the building went through a major renovation at the turn of the last century. It was eventually sold to private owners after World War II, who proceeded to overhaul the facades in a gauche 1960s style. In 2013, when we were brought on to convert the building. It stood as an empty, beaten down, blighted building, most recently serving as a retail store. The newly renovated building now serves as a cultural anchor for the neighborhood.

[Check out PART 1 in this series.]

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PLACEMAKING v. PARKING (PART 1)
PERCEPTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS

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There are significant differences in the built environment of our neighborhoods planned before World War II, and those developed after.  Before the war, and the Great Depression, neighborhoods were designed to focus on walkability — sidewalks, smaller streets, and on-street parking were the norm.  After the war, planners were confronted with the twin challenges of the increasingly prevalent automobile, and new zoning ordinances which eschewed earlier priorities and had a significant negative impact on the quality of walkable communities. Today, there has been a shift in desires and priorities towards redeveloping more historic neighborhoods. Still, zoning requirements have a tremendous impact on the viability and adaptability of these neighborhoods.

Current zoning takes the approach of requiring each landowner to provide enough parking within their parcel to satisfy the parking needs of any buildings on that land. Every parcel must be self-sufficient. Zoning mandated parking requirements, often poorly conceived, are like a cancer in otherwise healthy neighborhoods.  Parking occupies a significant amount of space, increases development costs, and kills walkability by forcing buildings, separated by parking lots, to be spread across greater areas. The more distance between important neighborhood destinations, the less walkable the neighborhood becomes. This trend forces more people to drive, setting in motion the self-sustaining cycle of off street parking.

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JAZZ MARKET – TIME LAPSE

We are proud to present the Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market.

An amazingly special thanks to:

IRVIN MAYFIELD’S EXPANDING WORLD

Irvin Mayfield, Photo by Elsa Hahne, offBEAT Magazine, April 2015

photo by Elsa Hahne
story by Jennifer Odell – offBEAT magazine

Past a two-story wall of windows, up a wide set of wooden stairs, and set back from the concert stage at Irvin Mayfield’s newly christened New Orleans Jazz Market sits a room the trumpet player identifies as his office. There’s no desk in this office. No computer, no phone and no trumpet—just two places to sit and a chessboard. This is fitting enough, given the amount of strategizing that went into transforming an old Gator’s discount store into what Mayfield hopes will become a shining new beacon for jazz…
[Read the full post at offBEAT.com]
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LET’S TALK ABOUT PARKING (PART 2)

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How does a neighborhood node like Candler Park manage to function with such a greatly reduced amount of parking below the legal requirements?  How does the world not end there from a daily influx of cars?  Several reasons.  First, by being compact and situated in the middle of the neighborhood, it is easily walkable and bikable to many who live in the surrounding blocks.  Good sidewalk connectivity is part of this.  This reduces the amount of people that have to drive to the location.  There is also the ability to park once and visit multiple stores.  If our family chooses to drive instead of walk, we often park, have dinner, walk next door for a cup of hot chocolate for one daughter, and across the street for an ice cream cone for the other daughter.  While only using one parking space.

[Check out PART 1 in this series.]

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LET’S TALK ABOUT PARKING (PART 1)

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As a firm that solves redevelopment challenges on a daily basis, we have had time to reflect on one of the repeated biggest redevelopment hurdles we face in Atlanta- on site parking requirements.  What’s the big deal with requiring parking you may ask?  Everything.  Our goal for Atlanta is to have it be chock full of thriving, walkable, car-optional neighborhoods ideally connected by some form of transit- bike, light rail, MARTA, or bus.  The single biggest roadblock we encounter when aiming to make this happen is a very simple and insidious zoning requirement that says every site should provide adequate parking for its use on its own property.  Here is the thing, if you want to have a vibrant, walkable neighborhood center, it needs to have significantly less parking provided than zoning currently requires, there has to be some form of shared parking, and in some places, that shared parking should have some cost based upon the market demand.

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PRESERVATION MATTERS #MyNojoIs

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You know that an architecture trend is starting when Rem Koolhaas is talking about it. He is turning away from cities now and  focusing on preservation and the countryside, even though our focus is not the countryside just yet, we couldn’t agree more with Mr. Koolhaas about Preservation and it seems like Architectural Record is on the same boat, their February 2015 issue was all about renovation, restoration and adaptation.

Our New Orleans Jazz Market, home of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) has been honored with a 2015 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation by the Louisiana Landmarks Society that recognizes projects completed in Orleans Parish (outside of the French Quarter) that represent outstanding examples of restoration or rehabilitation of historic buildings.

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WE ARE LOOKING FOR SOMEONE AWESOME!

we are hiring

Kronberg Wall is in search of a bright and dynamic professional; we are looking for a team member who combines talent, experience and interest in urban placemaking to redefine what’s possible through the power of design.

For more details visit our LinkedIn post or send us an email to jobs@kronbergwall.com

*Riding your bike to work, using MARTA and/or being passionate about making awesome communities is not required but highly recommended.

 

 

Happy Jazzy Holidays from Kronberg Wall

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images by brandt photography 

We have had a wonderful year at Kronberg Wall and we would like to share the joy. The New Orleans Jazz Market, home of New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) is opening in January. We are proud to be part of this project because it embodies the core principles of our firm, an adaptive reuse project in an urban infill site that is empowering people and translating New Orleans culture into design, but we did not do it alone and we would like give a shout out to our team of consultants.

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WE WON A NATIONAL TRUST AWARD!

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We are truly honored to be the recipients of the National Trust/ HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation with Redmellon for our efforts restoring 46 blighted homes in New Orleans’ Treme and 7th Ward neighborhoods. This project provides low-income housing for historically under-served areas of the city, creating innovative solutions for sensible rehabilitation and social change.

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CONSCIOUS URBAN PLACEMAKING: NEW ORLEANS

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We believe in cities and we believe in neighborhoods that preserve their past and maintain their culture. New Orleans is at the stage of development where a conscious urban infill approach is essential in both preserving and promoting its neighborhood cultures. More than 200,000 residents have returned to the city after Katrina and have struggled with re-establishing their communities. Nonetheless, New Orleans is a resilient city. Architectural Record named New Orleans as one of their In-Demand Cities in their October issue.

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NONPROFITS: DESIGNING FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

Non Profits 5

As communities change and evolve, gentrification becomes a challenge and we have found that committing our resources in the service of public interest is an effective method for balancing historically under-served neighborhoods. We work closely with non-profits in order to translate their mission and identify and solve their practical problems through design. We create spaces that encourage interaction and that allow members to act and participate, empowering diverse communities.

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