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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.