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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
On Tuesday, KW principals Eric Kronberg and Adam Wall had the opportunity to discuss the award-winning Iberville Offsite Rehabilitation project with Lois Reitzes on City Lights. You can listen to the interview and read more about the project here.
When 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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.