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Thread: Conflicts with residentail in urban areas

  1. #1
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Conflicts with residentail in urban areas

    Aside from some of the obvious thing like conflicts with parking for the resident and guests, trash and recycling pick up (if it is a single unit and no confined/community trash bins are possible) and noise from traffic.

    What are some of the issues your community has faced with allowing residential uses on upper floors of commercial buildings in an urban area once they have been allowed?

  2. #2
    Building inspectors that want to apply building codes right down to the nth degree. Because residential and commercial are separate occupancy classes, there must be an expensive separation between them for fire safety. One would think that masonry/timber construction and 5/4 flooring would make an hour separation possible, but apparently not.

    Meantime, I'll try to think of others.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    Building inspectors that want to apply building codes right down to the nth degree. Because residential and commercial are separate occupancy classes, there must be an expensive separation between them for fire safety. One would think that masonry/timber construction and 5/4 flooring would make an hour separation possible, but apparently not.

    Meantime, I'll try to think of others.
    Preach on! This is our biggest hinderance to mixed use development.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have dealt with it in many small towns, where (besides the parking) the difficulties of conversion usually revolve around access to the second floor. Two means of egress are required, which can be a problem in the typical small downtown building of the late 19th or early 20th century. On slightly larger buildings, we have run into the problem of ADA requiring a percentage of the units to be accessible. This means either putting in an elevator (too expensive) or allowing residential units on the first floor. The latter is usually not desirable for the health of the commercial district, even when it is conceivable that somebody would want to live on the ground floor in a commercial district.

    In my new city of employment, there is a fair amount of redevelopment with mixed uses. The major debate is over density. Where are the appropriate locations to densify? Not everybody likes the idea of even the main transportation corridors being lined with mixed use skyscrapers towing up to 55 feet. Besides that, there are issues of developers wanting to do purely residential buildings where some mixed use is better, or of the city requiring mixed uses where residential, or a different orientation of the commercial uses would be better.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    I have dealt with it in many small towns, where (besides the parking) the difficulties of conversion usually revolve around access to the second floor. Two means of egress are required, which can be a problem in the typical small downtown building of the late 19th or early 20th century. On slightly larger buildings, we have run into the problem of ADA requiring a percentage of the units to be accessible. This means either putting in an elevator (too expensive) or allowing residential units on the first floor. The latter is usually not desirable for the health of the commercial district, even when it is conceivable that somebody would want to live on the ground floor in a commercial district.
    I think building code issues is the greatest issue. Our local inspector is now telling us with the new code (Feb 2004) that the entire building needs to be suppressed if you put an apartment upstairs. The whole state is on the same code, but wow does the interpretation change everywhere you go.

    We haven't had a problem with accessibility - an elevator would be required only if there were 11 or more units (or something like that), and for the projects that have been completed most of them have only one means of egress. Keeping in mind that we have a lot of small buildings, none over 3 stories high, and most pretty narrow.

    One problem that we experience is that you have to have a window in the bedroom. Since a lot of our buildings are quite narrow it requires a lot of thought on how to best layout the floor plan. Most everyone wants the living room in the front with the big huge windows, but if you don't have windows anywhere else, you have to manipulate the space for the bedrooms.

    One other potential problem is with SHPO - if your using CDBG or other public fund you have to get their blessing which could potentially affect the cost. We've had good luck with them, because through the CDBG program we made it clear what the guidelines would be for windows, exteriors, etc, but I have heard horror stories.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    Preach on! This is our biggest hinderance to mixed use development.
    Right up there with insurance rates and secondary access. ADA can be a beyotch too. Replacing of wiring and plumbing to meet code can also be a major financial constraint.

    OOPS, I'm talking about renovating older buildings for mixed use.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  7. #7
         
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    Our biggest dilemas are fire separation and parking. Most of our mixed use developments are new or reuse of historic structures in historic district that already have limited parking. Residnce and business owners are covinced this adds to the parking problem, I personally don't believe there is a parking problem, these people just dont like to walk any further than the curb in front of the business they want to shop in.
    Our building official has informed us that the city can adopt our own building regs that are less restrctive, and do not require all elematns of historic structure comply with ADA when rehabbing. Anyone else heard this or dealt with it? If so, it may eliminate some of the issues we have with converting top floor business to residential.

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