RETROFITTING SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOODS
TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Case Studies: Cityside at Town Center/ Town Village at Kennesaw Mixson Avenue Conclusion Sources
4 9 18 24 26
Retrofitting Suburban Residential Neighborhoods: Opportunities and Challenges Suburban Retrofits offer great opportunities to cities, towns, neighborhoods, and citizens to change neighborhoods into more livable environments. The auto-dominated, hard to walk, low density, single use urban form that is the standard of the suburbs can morph into an urban form that supports mixed use, higher densities, is sustainable and walkable. Today, suburbia dominates the United States, where over 50% of people live in suburbs. As suburbs age and the demands for housing and commercial space change, residential suburban neighborhoods offer a unique opportunity to become suburban retrofits.
OPPORTUNITIES: DIFFERENT NEIGHBORHOODS Suburbs (And suburban residential neighborhoods) have continually changed since the widespread use of the automobile. Each different age or classification of suburban neighborhoods offers diverse opportunities for retrofitting.
Figure 1 Suburban Gwinnett County features many typical single family home subdivisions that are autodominated, single use, low density, and not friendly to pedestrians. Although they are newer developments, very high gas prices could encourage suburban retrofits.
The first suburbs in the United States typically centered around railroads, such as Inman Park in Atlanta, GA. These suburbs utilized grids of streets and mixed uses to create walkable environments, and are neighborhoods built during what Walter Kulash calls, the First Motor Age1. The automobile was adapted to neighborhoods that had already been built with pedestrian walkability as their foundation. While many of these suburbs can continue to provide a walkable environment, they will still offer areas for infill development, adaptive re-use and other suburban retrofits. The infrastructure in theses suburbs is aging, and as it is replaced, developers may seek to utilize a greater diversity of uses, build at higher densities, and incorporate transit. The neighborhoods that adapted to the car almost 100 years ago now provide a way to continue the positive aspects of their design as walkable communities, as they adapt to the 21st century and rising populations. The first ring suburbs were built to accommodate the car, and their design centered around using the car instead of the sidewalk. During what Kulash calls the Second Motor Age, hierarchies of roads with arterials, collectors, distributive, and local roads replaced traditional grids with a network that favored superblocks, cul-de-sacs, high speeds, high traffic volumes, and an environment that rejects pedestrians. The neighborhoods of these suburbs, built from the 1940â€™s to the 1970â€™s and 80â€™s, still retain a small amount of connectivity in their road network through very large blocks,
but the pedestrian environment is still lacking. Neighborhoods built in this time period were constructed at the fringes of the city and typically far from other developments. Over the years, the areas around these neighborhoods have become built out, and many neighborhoods have drastically changed because of adjacent developments. As neighborhoods age, land values decrease, and residents of these neighborhoods become less satisfied with their once secluded neighborhoods, suburban retrofits can replace the neighborhoods with the pedestrian friendly, mixed use, housing development that the next generation desires. Modern suburban housing subdivisions built in the last 20 years at the fringes of cities offer almost no connectivity. The little connectivity offered by suburbs of the previous era was replaced by larger superblocks and more cul-de-sacs further hurting walkability. As the turn of the century neared, residential subdivisions were built with far lower densities and larger houses. Golf course communities and gated communities also attract many suburbanites into neighborhoods completely secluded from other neighborhoods and other uses. Most modern residential neighborhoods will not be retrofitting for many years because of their relative new age. That can change if social, financial, and environmental changes occur. Since most modern neighborhoods are located on the far fringes of cities, residents experience very long commutes. If gas prices rise to levels where people cannot afford their commutes to work, neighborhoods will have to accommodate the change in mobility by
Low Density Unsustainable
Auto Dominated Not Walkable
Disconnected Single Use
Suburban Retrofits High Density Sustainable
Transit Oriented Walkable
Connected Mixed Use
utilizing higher densities, a mix of uses, and walkability. They will have to be retrofitted in order to allow people to live close to home and eliminate trips by the car where possible.
METHODS AND CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOODS INTO RETROFITS Assemblage: Sunny Brook Meadows Assemblage
Figure 3 Map showing the outline of Sunny Brook Meadows. Its development possibilities are limited by its location and it would have more options if the Raleigh Square Condos to the East could be acquired to connect to Roswell Road.
Figure 4 Sunny Brook Meadows is comprised mostly of ranch houses build in the 1960â€™s. Since then it has been surrounded by single and multifamily residential and commercial developments.
In 2007, seven homeowners in Sunny Brook Meadows Neighborhood in Sandy Springs, GA formed an assemblage and approached the rest of the neighborhood.2 All of the homeowners decided to expand the assemblage to include the entire neighborhood of 54 homes. The neighbors found interested developers and realtors, and the planning and zoning department of the City of Sandy Springs made it clear they would like to have a walkable, mixed use, live, work, play development on the site. Since the neighborhood is surrounded by the Raleigh Square Condos to the east and more residential neighborhoods to the north and west, connectivity was a major issue. After several meetings with the planning and zoning department of Sandy Springs, they would allow 300 homes and townhomes to be built. Although it is not mixed use, the retrofit would increase density by building five times the amount of residential units and offer a mix of different housing types. Even though the neighborhood had two interested developers, three homeowners could not agree to a price.
With the slow economy and the inability to fix a price, the real estate deal was taken off the market3. Even though the development could not start, assemblages still provide a way for suburban retrofits to develop. Homeowners, like those in Sunny Brook Meadows can take advantage of the value of the neighborhood as a whole to petition developers to buy the land and design suburban retrofits. Although the Sunny Brook Meadows was not able to secure a price to buy and develop the neighborhood into a suburban retrofit, Penny and Dennis Crandall, the heads of the homeowners association, still believe that the development will happen. Developer Driven Purchasing Suburban retrofits can also start through enterprising developers who organize with neighborhoods to get them to agree to sell their property. Steven Arms, developer for the Cityside at Town Center (See the case study for more information) went door to door in the Hidden Forest Subdivision in Kennesaw, GA in order to see if the residents would sell their property. All of the residents have agreed to sell their property to the developer, but the unfavorable economic conditions have slowed down the project. Developers can also purchase parcels one by one (or more) in an area so they can develop it into a suburban retrofit. In the 1990â€™s, Dan Woodley started buying parcels along Dresden Drive in the Brookhaven District, north of Atlanta, GA.4 He later developed these commer-
cial and residential parcels into the mixed use, Village Place Brookhaven(See next section). Retrofitting suburban neighborhoods has challenges like any development would. Dealing with neighborhoods and residents may seem like developing single family home neighborhoods is too difficult, but many opportunities arise for developers such as the assemblage for Sunny Brook Meadows. The opportunities for developers will continue to increase as suburban neighborhoods change, age, and land values decline.
VILLAGE PLACE BROOKHAVEN As a suburban retrofit, the Village Place at Brookhaven increases density to form a walkable mixed use development that is transforming an aging neighborhood into a vibrant third place and community. Dan Woodley developed the site on Dresden Drive from properties he had been buying since the 1990â€™s. After winning approval for re-zoning in 2005, he began developing the 3 story building in 20075. The Village Place Brookhaven features 41 residential units, 10 office condos, and 36,000 square feet of retail on the 5 acre site.
Figure 5 Village Place Brookhaven has transformed a increasingly run down aging suburban neighborhood into a vibrant community center and catalyst for future development along the Dresden Drive corridor towards the nearby Brookhaven MARTA station.
Village Place Brookhaven Urban Morphology The Brookhaven District is located north of Atlanta, GA and Buckhead. In the early decades of the century, wealthy Atlantans built summer homes in the area, and by the early 1900’s commercial development began along Peachtree Street, which bisects the district. By the 1950’s and 1960’s, the area experienced substantial growth as many single family home subdivisions were constructed. In 1984, The Brookhaven MARTA station was constructed, allowing the opportunity for future transit-oriented growth. By the late 1990’s Dresden Drive (The main east-west street in the diagrams) experienced greater traffic volumes and a few local commercial properties developed at street corners. By the 2000’s many homes became dilapidated and retail stores run down. 4 commercial properties and 12 homes were purchased to build the Village Place Brookhaven. The buildings line up directly to the north side of Dresden Drive, providing great spaces for retail on the ground floor along with on street parking. The three story building provides a vibrant urban street environment and center for the community. To the south of Dresden Drive, Dan Woodley also developed Towne Park Place,6 where 20 single family homes were replaced with 40 homes and townhomes and additional lofts above ground floor retail. Towne Park Place added a new street to the block, but does not offer much in connectivity as it is a looped street within a larger block. Units face the back of other units and also face an inPage 8
terior courtyard. Although Towne Park Place increased density, it still lacks public park space and a strong urban street environment. Village Place Brookhaven’s Success 80 percent of the Village Place Brookhaven’s units have sold as of July 2010, and it is also running out of retail spaces, showing that the suburban retrofit still attracts buyers in a down market.7 It has attracted many local businesses which has produced a community environment that is developing into a third place. It is starting to become the community hub for dining, entertainment, and family outings.8 A very important part of the Village Place Brookhaven is its potential success and position as a catalyst for new development on Dresden Drive. Dillon Baynes, the president of
the Orinda Corporation, who now manages the property, envisions the area undergoing extensive redevelopment as the economy becomes more favorable.9 Dresden Drive can become a main street for Brookhaven, connecting to the MARTA station and the proposed transit-oriented development by the Brookhaven Peachtree Livable Centers Initiative. Village Place Brookhaven serves as a great example of a residential neighborhood developed into a suburban retrofit. The mixed use development has created higher densities, a more walkable environment, a third place for the neighborhood, all while retaining the neighborhood character. Village Place Brookhaven also serves as a catalyst for more suburban retrofits in the area.
Cityside at Town Center/Town Village at Kennesaw
Name of project: Cityside at Town Center/Town Village at Kennesaw Location: northwest of Atlanta in Kennesaw, GA Year to be constructed: sometime between 2020-2030 Initial developer: Marthasville Development Current developer: Lynwood Development and the Pacific Group What it replaces: 48 home Hidden Forest Subdivision Size of site: 52.11 acres Number of Housing Units: 1,600 Commercial square footage: 134,000 sq ft retail, 144,000 sq ft office Key features: Very high densities, urban block structure, sustainable site design, proposed LRT and BRT nearby, close to KSU and Town Center Mall Before After 0.86 units/acre
Figure 8 Illustrative Perspective showing the Steven Arms/Marthasville Development Plan
Figure 9 Location Map Figure 10 Aerial Image of the Neighborhood
Figure 11 The Hidden Forest Subdivision features curvilinear streets with large setbacks, but big trees can still form some sense of enclosure.
The Cityside at Town Center, later renamed Town Village at Kennesaw is a great example of a proposed retrofit of a single family home neighborhood. Both of its plans turn the 48 home Hidden Forest Subdivision from the disconnected, auto-oriented, low density neighborhood it is now, into a much higher density, mixed use, connected walkable neighborhood. The Hidden Forest Subdivision was built in the 1970’s near where I-75 was to be built, providing quick access to Atlanta and the surrounding areas. The neighborhood Page 10
quickly became a secluded island in the 1980’s when I-575 was built directly to the east of the neighborhood in 1985 and Town Center Mall was built to the south in 1986. Residents in the aging late mid-century neighborhood were ready move to a different neighborhood. Developers saw the neighborhood from a different perspective and knew it was a prime opportunity to develop the area. In the mid 2000’s, A major road expansion of Big Shanty Road (the road directly north of and providing access to Hidden forest)
to connect to I-75 encouraged thoughts of the development of the site. Kennesaw State Universities continuing expansion south toward the neighborhood also encouraged development to try to provide student housing. Steven Arms of Marthasville Development was the developer that proposed a suburban retrofit for the suburban neighborhood. Arms was about to come to an agreement with the neighborhood to buy all of the property and begin developing it as a mixed use, connected neighborhood. In 2007, the zoning was changed from R-20 to PVC (Planned Village Community) to allow higher densities, mixed use and a grid of streets. The Livable Centers Initiative Plan of 2004 helped inspire Armâ€™s plan for the neighborhood. The LCI plan called for a grid of streets forming blocks around multi-family housing. The new grid of streets would connect to the outer road for the Town Center Mall where LCI had proposed a high density mixed use development outside the mall, creating a main street/village center leading toward one of the main mall entrances.10 Two new trails, the Noonday Creek Trail under construction to the south of the neighborhood and the Big Shanty Road Trail, proposed along Big Shanty Road, will provide the site with even more access and amenities, especially for bicyclists. Figure 12 The Livable Centers Initiative Plan calls for dense multi-family housing situated in several blocks, bisected by a greenway, leading from the mall entrance north to Kennesaw State University. The plan also called for mixed use along the mall access road and also leading toward the entrance of the mall. Page 11
1972 Figure-Field Diagram
Figure 13 1972 Figure-field diagram. The Hidden Forest Subdivision was built in a rural area in Cobb County. At the time it was built, access was very limited as Interstate-75 had not been constructed yet near the neighborhood. It was laid out with an additional road to either connect to other potential subdivisions or to expand the subdivision in general. As with other typical subdivisions of the era, Hidden Forest used a superblock or curvilinear streets without much use of the cul-de-sac, in a self-contained secluded development.
2010 Figure-Field Diagram
Figure 14 2010 Figure-field diagram. The Hidden Forest Subdivision is not completely surrounded by other developments and highways. Iinterstate-75 was the first to be built in 1975, with Interstate-575 (to the east) built in 1985. Town Center Mall, to the south, was built in 1986 and formed a campus tissue to adjoin the neighborhood. The static tissue of the neighborhood was joined by elastic tissues from the commercial and multi-family residential developments that were constructed to the west of the neighborhood. With the neighborhood in a much different context and environment from when it was built, the opportunity to develop the site became a reality.
2030 Figure-Field Diagram-Arms
Figure 15 2030 Figure-field diagram-Arms. The Plan for the Cityside at Town Center from Steven Arms of Marthasville Development eliminates the neighborhood completely, without utilizing any of the existing streets. Instead, the plan creates a grid to form small blocks. The streets extend beyond the development to potentially join to Busbee Parkway or other developments to the west. A road will extend toward the south to Town Center Mall in order to help relieve traffic congestion and to produce a vital connection for the community.
2030 Figure-Field Diagram-Snell
Figure 16 2030 Figure-field diagram-Snell. The Plan for Town Village at Kennesaw from Woody Snell of Lynwood Development breaks the neighborhood into 8 large blocks, with 4 main rectangular blocks at the center. Although the blocks are much bigger than the Steven Arms plan, this plan connects to the mall more efficiently. Each of the four main apartment blocks contain four interior courtyards, allowing units to face the interior of the block instead of the street. On the north side of the development, there are standard suburban freestanding retail buildings surrounded by parking.
Figure 18 Impervious Surfaces with the Hidden Forest Subdivision.
Figure 17 Greenspace Diagram for the Cityside at Town Center plan. It’s main feature is a central park that is the focus of the development. Greenspace also surrounds the development where a trail will be built.
The Cityside at Town Center increases density drastically by including over 1,600 residential units and 88 townhomes. The plan also includes 145,000 square feet of office space and 105,000 square feet of retail.11 On street parking is a priority with parking on both sides of the street on almost every street. Parking decks are also situated in the interior of the larger blocks. A key feature of the plan is a central park. This park provides a great opportunity for the neighborhood to develop a third place, especially with the close access to the mall. Sustainability Changing a low density area that consists mostly of impervious surfaces to a high dense area of almost all impervious surfaces raises many questions of sustainability. Although the The plan for the Cityside at Town Center contains
Figure 19 Impervious Surfaces with the Cityside at Town Center plan.
many impervious surfaces, the developers, Marthasville Development and the Pacific Group are committed to installing and maintaining a storm water bio-rentention system to capture and reuse storm water.12 In 2008, the Hidden Forest development scored a 3.1 out of 4 on the Livable Communities Coalition’s scorecard for smart growth13. The high score was given due to the street layout, mix of uses, and layout conducive to a walkable environment. Transition to Lynwood Development and The Pacific Group In the last 2000’s, Marthasville Development and Steven Arms handed the project to Woody Snell of Lynwood Development and the Pacific Group. The plan, now called the Town Village at Kennesaw for the subdivision kept its high dense, mixed use, walkable and urban character but lost the central park green the Cityside
Figure 20 The Cityside at Town Center connects to the mall, but not in conjunction with the LCI proposal.
Figure 21 The Town Village at Kennesaw connects to the mall utilizing a wide road to the mall entrance.
Figure 22 The Town Village at Kennesaw Plan along with the Town Center LCI plan for the mall, and the proposed plan for the BRT station. All three combine to create a great urban transit-oriented environment. Great connections between all three could produce and outstanding urban environment and urban form.
at Town Center utilized. The Town Village at Kennesaw still has greenspace, but not at a focal point of the community to attract people to the neighborhood. The smaller blocks of the Cityside at Town Center plan were replaced by four large rectangular blocks and four, smaller external blocks. Parking still occurs in garages and on the street, but many surface parking lots surround several buildings, adding a suburban, instead of an urban, character to the development. The four main apartment buildings in the center of the development contain four courtyards each, allowing units to face the interior of the block, instead of facing the exterior of the block to add to the character and environment of the street. While The Town Village at Kennesaw looses some of the important urban characteristics of the Cityside at Town Center Plan, the Town Village plan offers a much better opportunity to connect to Town Center Mall. The plan follows the suggestions from the Town Center LCI study to connect to the mall road in an area near the entrance. The way the road connects to the mall will allow further development outside the mall. The Town Village at Town Center is poised to connect to future transit opportunities. Two major transit projects are proposed for the area: A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Station north of Big Shanty Road towards I-75, and a Light Rail Transit (LRT)14 stop near the Town Center Mall. The road connecting the development to the mall serves to allow most residents a 10 minute walk to the light rail station.
Figure 23 Greenspace Diagram for the Town Village at Kennesaw Plan
Figure 24 Parking Diagram for the Town Village at Kennesaw Plan
Figure 25 10 minute walk from the LRT station in the Town Village at Kennesaw Plan
Figure 26 10 minute walk from the LRT station in the Cityside at Town Center Plan
Figure 27 The existing block structure.
Figure 28 The block structure with the Town Village at Kennesaw Plan.
Block Morphology The Town Village at Kennesaw breaks up the superblock structure of the Hidden Forest Subdivision and surrounding area to create a block structure to connect many different areas. As more development occurs, such as at the proposed BRT station, additional roads can be added to the network to increase connectivity and walkability. Eventually, the area may have a gridded network of streets that extends from the mall all the way to north to KSU. The Future of the Town Village at Kennesaw Currently, with the slow economy, it has become increasingly harder to buy the properties of Hidden Forest as agreed. Many neighbors
Figure 29 The block structure with the Town Village at Kennesaw Plan and proposed BRT station.
have sold their property to the KSU foundation, who could be securing the land to support the new soccer (and in 2014, football) stadium north of Big Shanty Road. At the north end of the neighborhood, two houses have been bought and demolished in order to make room for a student housing and retail building, which can be incorporated into the Town Village Plan. Once the economy returns, there is a very high probability that this suburban retrofit will be constructed. KSU is the third largest school in the state and has an increasing demand for infrastructure. In the future, there are also opportunities to both connect to Town Center Mall and retrofit it.
Figure 30 The block structure when both plans are connected.
ment that is very high density and walkable. They provide an opportunity to connect and facilitate future development. They also offer an example of a developer leading a suburban neighborhood to become a suburban retrofit.
The Town Village at Kennesaw and Cityside at Town Center both bring a mixed use developPage 17
CASE STUDY Mixson Avenue
Name of project: Mixson Avenue Location: North Charleston, SC Year to be constructed: sometime between 2017 Initial developer: Iâ€™On Group, Keane & Co. Current developer: Jamestown Properties, Green Street Properties Landscape Architects: Seamon, Whiteside, and Associates-Urban edge Studio What it replaces: 352 unit Calhoun Homes, USHA housing development Size of site: 44 acres Number of Housing Units: 950, 566 Key features: Very high densities, urban block structure, sustainable site and building design, community outreach
Current Plan 12.9 units/acre
Figure 31 Perspective of the Mixson Avenue Planned Development. Page 18
Figure 32 Location Map.
Figure 33 Mixson Avenue features very narrow streets and alleys to create a dense walkable environment.
Mixson Avenue Planned Development is a suburban retrofit of an aging rental/public housing project in North Charleston, SC that features very high densities, a system of connected, narrow streets and alleys, sustainable site and building design, and a focus on community outreach (Especially those displaced from the housing project). North Charleston was designed in the early 20th century as a City Beautiful suburb of Charleston (10 miles away). In 1941, the John C. Calhoun Homes were built for shipyard workers and military personnel for the nearby
Naval Base.15 After being used to house military personnel, the homes were used as rental housing and became very dilapidated by the turn of the century. Jamestown Properties and the Iâ€™On Group bought the 352 homes for $3.8 million dollars and deconstructed the homes in 2005.16 The design and plan for Mixson Avenue has received major awards from The Congress for New Urbanism and the American Institute of Architects. The design replaced the existing 352 rental homes with 950 residential units, creating a density of about 21 units/acre. This
high density is one of the reason Mixson Avenue won the 2008 CNU Charter award. Many other features of the design included very narrow streets and alleys, a diversity of housing types, with many vertical, attached family homes. The Iâ€™On group understood how important the public space and the possibility of third places is with their focus on providing many public parks throughout the development. The project also included a height district map in order to allow 65 foot tall buildings but respect the surrounding neighborhoods. The design also focused on good architecture, construction, and materials. Page 19
developers of Mixson Avenue reached out to the displaced people and to the rest of the community. They partnered with a housing nonprofit, to hold a housing fair to offer the displaced residents assistance to find and afford new homes.22 The Mixson Civic Trust was also formed to help revitalize the surrounding neighborhood by engaging the neighbors and surrounding community in cultural and educational events including support of the local artists and struggling local schools.23 Mixson Avenue also created an art event before demolishing the Calhoun Homes, using the homes as canvases for local artists, strengthening ties to the community. Mixson Avenue’s Changes Figure 34 Illustrative Plan of Mixson Avenue, First Concept
Figure 35 Illustrative Plan of Mixson Avenue, Second Concept
Tim Keane of Keane & Co. showed his appreciation for materials when he said, “Quality materials are a huge deal. Poor materials would have killed it [The development].”17
of Mixson Avenue certainly adds to its sustainability as well.
With such a high density, there were many challenges with the electric company, cable company, HVAC units, post office, and garbage collection. The developers educated the utility companies and municipalities by showing how less conventional design methods, such as narrow streets, have worked in other projects21.
Another area Mixson Avenue excels is in sustainablility. The development will be the second largest LEED for homes project in the country,18 and the neighborhood is expected to receive a LEED ND-rating.19 It features high quality construction with houses using autoclaved aerated concrete, permeable streets, low-e windows, recycled and recyclable carpet, low and no-voc paints, among many other sustainable materials.20 The very high density Page 20
Lessons Learned from High Density
Community Outreach Developing the Calhoun Homes site displaced many people from their low income, but the
Today, 18 units have been built, with 12 more lots available.24 Although one part of the development has been constructed, the slow economy has made some changed in the company. Jamestown Properties, one of the original investors, now owns 90% of the development, and has organized ones of its subsidiaries, Green Street Properties to redesign the project. The project will still retain much of its sustainability, mix of uses and other features, but it will not have densities like before. It is clear that the project will retain many of its sustainable features and the Green Street Properties Plan features many different parks and greenspaces. The plan also preserves the site’s largest and oldest trees, forming large parks, small parks, and diverting roads away from them. The project also utilizes an extensive
Figure 36 Alleys
Figure 37 Houses facing parks.
Figure 38 Greenspace and parking
network of alleyways for garages and service vehicles. The network of alleys helps to take traffic pressure off the main rights of way and further breaks up the block structure to create a more extensive, connected network of roads. Green Streets Properties is also working with the local neighborhoods to try to connect roads to adjacent subdivisions where ever possible in order to increase the projectâ€™s connectivity. An interesting component of the design is the relationship between seven of the parks and the adjacent homes. The homes adjacent to these parks, face the parks instead of the street. Four of those parks the homes face directly toward the center of the blocks, as if the greenspace is a street. Although the parks may still be part of the public domain, this design feature is very similar to Radburn, NJ, where homes face a center park and turn away
and reject the street. Green Street Propertiesâ€™ plan for Mixson Avenue still retains a connective street fabric, unlike Radburn. The Green Street Properties plan also contains a diverse mix of uses and lot sizes. The plan includes Condos, Apartments over ground floor retail, townhomes, live-work units, common buildings, and 5 different sizes of lots for single family homes to produce diverse housing options through varied dimensions, forms, and styles. The one area the plan lacks in sustainable, new urbanist form is with surface parking lots, which dominate a central area of the plan. Without utilizing parking garages, the surface parking lot create unfavorable urban conditions. It also has a lower density than the
original plan as it will have around 566 units instead of 950, creating a density of 12.9 units/acre, which is still much higher than Calhoun Homes. Mixson Avenue produces a great example of a suburban neighborhood retrofit. Developers were able to purchase the land needed to build the project, provide assistance for the displaced residents, and connect with the surrounding community. While the original plan for Mixson Avenue was highly praised, the current plan still produces good urbanism with its greenspace, connected street network, high density (even though its lower than the original plan), and diversity of uses and housing types.
1957 Figure-Field Diagram
Figure 39 1957 Figure-field diagram. North Charleston was developed as a City Beautiful suburb for Charleston. The area is known more specifically as Park Circle with streets and neighborhoods radiating from the center circle. Originally organized around dense developments close to train stations, the urban form of North Charleston is varied from static tissues of residential neighborhoods to elastic tissues on corridors and campus tissues on the site of John C. Calhoun Homes. The development in the 1950â€™s and 1960â€™s featured small homes to house military personnel who worked at the nearby Naval Base.
2010 Figure-Field Diagram
Figure 40 2010 Figure-field diagram. Aside from industrial growth and the demolition of John C. Calhoun Homes in 2005, not many aspects of the urban form of North Charleston have changed greatly. The initial stages of Mixson Avenue Planned Development have been constructed, and the development will likely try to utilize some of the streets from the preexisting housing project. As an older subdivision, the neighborhood has aged a great deal and provides many opportunities for future development, both infill and retrofits. Land Values are low (The entire 44 acre, 352 homes Calhoun home site was $3.8 million), and Mixson Avenue may serve as a catalyst for future development in the area.
Figure 42 Block Structure 1957 There are many large blocks, but many are isolated in their own pockets.
Figure 43 Block Structure 2010 Not much block structure changed between 1957 and 2010, but a few new roads and neighborhoods were built, offering some new connections
2020 Figure-Field Diagram-Arms
Figure 41 Figure-field diagram. Mixson Avenue will create a dense network of streets and alleys in the current urban form. The developers are trying to work with the adjacent neighbors to connect to those neighborhoods, further extending the street network and connectivity. Higher density mixed use commercial development will develop along the main roads, creating a very urban, enclosed, walkable environment. In the future, the surface parking lots of the project may be redeveloped to make the project even more high density. Surrounding neighborhoods may also become likely candidates for suburban retrofits to possibly connect with Mixson Avenue.
Figure 43 Block Structure 2020 Mixson Avenue will create a dense structure of smaller blocks in its own isolated area. Not many connections are made through the entire area, and that may be a possibility in the future.
Retrofitting Suburban Residential Neighborhoods
Suburban residential neighborhoods provide promising opportunities for suburban retrofits. From aging early subdivisions, to neighborhoods that have changed with adjacent developments, there will never be a shortage of promising areas to retrofit suburban neighborhoods. Single family residential neighborhoods make up so much of the United Stateâ€™s housing. Perceived challenges with neighbors and neighborhoods associations might exist, but developers and neighborhood residents alike can work together to form assemblages or acquire parcels piece by piece to redevelop property. The retrofits can take place on a small to medium scale, where parcels are bought one by one over a period of time, or they can be large project, formed from buying and redeveloping other large projects. Retrofits of suburban residential neighborhoods offer walkable, higher density, connected street networks, diverse uses. Demographics are changing and an increasing amount of young adults desire to live in new urbanist communities. The amount of suburban retrofits can only increase with the demographic changes. As gas prices rise to extreme levels, Page 24
people with long commutes will no longer be able to afford to drive to work. Retrofitting residential neighborhoods on the fringes of cities will be imperative to providing people with affordable housing, transportation, and lifestyles. Suburban retrofits seek to connect, enliven, and rejuvenate residential neighborhoods. With the current changes and demographics, suburban retrofits of suburban neighborhoods will be the key to giving people the opportunity to live in vibrant communities.
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