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.
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.
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.
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.
We are looking for a curious and dedicated individual to join our team. Applicants with B.Arch and/or M.Arch degree and 0-6 years of experience preferred. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.