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Thread: Downtown 2nd floor apartment standards

  1. #1

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    Downtown 2nd floor apartment standards

    A city for which my company is a consultant, wishes to allow accessory apartments on the 2nd floor of the commercial buildings in their downtown. They are not currently allowed as several "slum lords" put apartments in a few years back and the result was horrible. They have asked us to develop some ideas for regulating these apartments to prevent repeating past mistakes. Here are a few ideas we've come up with:

    - Minimum square footage.
    - Off street, dedicated parking
    - Compliance with downtown design guidelines (windows, architectural features, etc.)
    - A minimum square footage of outdoor space (balcony, small yard, etc.)
    - Covered stairs to the second floor.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    In my fair city:

    Quote Originally posted by cmdrico7812
    - Minimum square footage.
    None, except for what the building code requires.
    - Off street, dedicated parking
    None.
    - Compliance with downtown design guidelines (windows, architectural features, etc.)
    No downtown design guidelines.

    - A minimum square footage of outdoor space (balcony, small yard, etc.)
    None
    - Covered stairs to the second floor.
    Building Code will address this.

    Ack. hit post to quick: 'burb fixer is right.. Rental Registration programs can help....to an extent.
    Last edited by boiker; 05 Jul 2006 at 12:21 PM.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I'm not sure if you are talking about true "slum lords" or developers that do shotty work in redeveloping the properties.

    If slum lords are your problem for letting properties degrade, etc., then I would suggest a registration and inspection program for rental properties. Several other places have done that.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman GŲring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    We have density requirements that limit the number of units - 3,500sqft of land per 3bd unit, etc.

    Parking requirements may be used to affect number of units.

    But I would echo SR, if the real problem is property maintainence, then would be better addressed through code enforcement, rather than development code.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    If you have problems with slumlords, don't require balconies or yards. Those can rapidly become visible symbols of economic weakness (think of clothes hanging off the balcony railing). You want the downtown to look successful and clean. Scary stuff on balconies will typically work agains that improession.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Reductionist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cmdrico7812
    A city for which my company is a consultant, wishes to allow accessory apartments on the 2nd floor of the commercial buildings in their downtown. They are not currently allowed as several "slum lords" put apartments in a few years back and the result was horrible. They have asked us to develop some ideas for regulating these apartments to prevent repeating past mistakes. Here are a few ideas we've come up with:

    - Minimum square footage.
    Minimal square footage for the building or for individual dwelling units?

    - Off street, dedicated parking
    Requiring off-street parking in downtown is always a bad idea. All property within the boundaries of our Central Business District is exempt from off-street parking requirements and it works great. Either the market or developer finds a way to supply parking if it is needed. Or consider allowing shared parking agreements with daytime commercial uses that are largely vacant or minimally used on nights and weekends.

    - Compliance with downtown design guidelines (windows, architectural features, etc.)
    Our downtown is a registered historic district. All new construction and exterior renovations are required to come before the historic preservation board for design review.

    - A minimum square footage of outdoor space (balcony, small yard, etc.)
    This is something to consider for new construction, but probably a big negative if you want to encourage the retrofitting of older commercial structures for residential purposes. Such structures typically are typically built to the lot lines and have little or no spaces for a yard or there are architectural issues that either make a balcony unrealistic or undesirable. My suggestion would be to encourage them or perhaps offer incentives, but donít make it a mandatory requirement on existing structures.

    - Covered stairs to the second floor.
    What is this rationale for this requirement? Is it to ensure that all stairwells are interior or that they be covered in awnings? My gut feeling is that it is a bad idea, especially without any sort of design review process that clearly specifies what is appropriate and what isnít.

    Quote Originally posted by Wulf9
    If you have problems with slumlords, don't require balconies or yards. Those can rapidly become visible symbols of economic weakness (think of clothes hanging off the balcony railing). You want the downtown to look successful and clean. Scary stuff on balconies will typically work agains that improession.
    Isn't that what code enforcement is for??
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 06 Jul 2006 at 10:29 AM.

  7. #7
    I agree with Reductionist... Don't have manditory off street parking as part of the proposal! You'll just be limiting the number of small businesses that have the option of redeveloping their property. Residents need the street parking at different times than the commercial traffic...so why worry. Manditory off street parking is just one more way to prevent density in the places where it's most logical to have it.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I would echo reductionists. The shared parking agreements are the way to go. We did a mixed use project with an undergound, free public parking garage (the development included a small grocer). Their is a one hour time limit during business hours, but residents can park over night. There is also mid street angled parking in front of the building, so plenty of parking around. Off street parking is not required for the residential uses.

    One other thing to consider is there a market for this typr of development. It took years for us to see any downtown residential development. The eleceted officials wanted to scrap all residential from the CBD because the market was not being filled. It took a lot of political battling to keep it and it turned out. It also took a lot of no action by the CD dept in terms of responding to the elected officials, which is never comforting.

  9. #9
         
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    Second Floor Units/Parking

    Our city actually provides one dedicated permit only parking space for each residential unit. The spaces are also towaway for non-permit holders.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Joeplan
    Our city actually provides one dedicated permit only parking space for each residential unit. The spaces are also towaway for non-permit holders.
    I'm going to propose a similar parking permit here if we get a few more lofts being renovated. Some buildings have changed hands and I know there is an interest in loft apartments.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  11. #11
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    We have many secondary suite guidelines for suites in single detached dwellings, but for apartments I would imagine the minimums in the Building Code apply. BCBC 1998 sets forth minimum sq ft for a dwelling, blah blah, etc.

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