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Thread: New row homes as infill development/ recreation of historic neighborhoods

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    New row homes as infill development/ recreation of historic neighborhoods

    Does any one have information on cities that have allowed new row homes to be constructed to provide infill development in older historic neighborhoods close to urban cores, and them not be used as affordable housing, but rather market rate or luxury?

    I have seen many of them being constructed, however they resemble suburban townhouses and often are only in groupings of three or four at most. Additionally, they appear to have been designed in a manner that does not give an impression of a historic neighborhood.

    I have a few design ideas that I have been kicking around for a while and wondering if it is a pipe dream or if there is substantial basis for it and if it has been successful in other locations.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I worked on a project that fits your description. (As a ditch digger mind you, not a planner.) In Pittsburgh the school board had a grand idea to build five "great high schools" to replace all of the existing ones.Property was aquirred for the first one, but the idea was abandoned, and instead a middle school was built on approximately 1/3 of the land. Eventually another part of the land was used for a townhouse/condominium project.

    The new townhouses face directly, the remaining single family homes across one of the streets. (The remaining three sides of the property are abutted by the middle school, a main traffic artery with a shopping center on the far side, and a large grocery store.) Architecturally, the townhouses are desigend to be very much in harmony with the existing houses.


    Here's a link to the page on the developer's website:

    http://www.montgomeryrust.com/ProjectPages/VOSS.htm

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    There are two distinct schools of thought in historic preservation circles. One believes that new construction in a historic district should not resemble the historic structures so that there would be no mistake which is historic and which is modern. On the other hand (and I personally believe in this particular school of thought), there are people that believe that you should not replicate historic structures, but have enough similarities where they fit into the context (mass, scale, relationship between the public and private areas, etc.) so that they blend in with the overall neighborhood.

    Now, I will put on my economic development hat on for a second. In regard to your issue with the affordability of the structures. I am not one that fears gentrification. There can be numerous benefits from having a mixture of incomes in an area so that there is a diversity in the price range and housing stock. This will lead to economic opportunities (jobs), more or better quality services (private sector), and higher tax revenues (for municipal government and the school system) among other benefits. Neighborhoods are not static and I feel that it is healthy to have new investment (even if different from the past) to spur econoic growth.
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  4. #4
    A block away from my condo is a great infill project that nicely complements the historic architecture of my neighborhood (the South End of Boston). It is a mixed income, limited equity co-op and just a great asset to the neighborhood. It is obviously not datable back to the 19th century like the buildings around it, but it is of similar design and scale.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Washington DC has a project under construction that is building new row homes near in the Old Navy Yard area just down the street from the famed Marine Barracks at 8th and I. The neighborhood was so bad that Marines used to joke about getting combat pay when they got stationed there.

    Now the area is quickly revatilizing and is a very desirable place to live given the proiximity to several Metro stops, the Capitol, Eastern Market and the new baseball stadium. The development is a combination of infill and teardown/rebuild.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    There are lots of examples of new housing that blends in quite well with old victorian housing in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Most of the City of Philadelphia.

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Where I work, we had some nice rowhouses built in 2002 in an existing neighborhood immediately south of our downtown. Below are some shots:

    An aerial of the street - the rowhouses are within the red square:


    This wasn't exactly "infill" more like redevelopment. The rowhouses replaced about 3 exsiting single family houses. There was never any serious decline (vacant buildings/lots) in this area, but the location next to downtown and within walking distance to the commuter train station to downtown Chicago made sense for the development.

    Here are a series of street level shots:












    Last edited by mendelman; 11 Jan 2007 at 1:08 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  9. #9
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    Most of the City of Philadelphia.
    and Baltimore.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  10. #10
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it View post
    On the other hand (and I personally believe in this particular school of thought), there are people that believe that you should not replicate historic structures, but have enough similarities where they fit into the context (mass, scale, relationship between the public and private areas, etc.) so that they blend in with the overall neighborhood.
    And if you look at many historic areas, you will see that even these stuctures were built at different times with exactly this (above described) design approach - diversity of style, but repetition of key design elements, massing, proportions, facade features, etc. I enjoy seeing this kind of infill that generates a dialogue with existing structures and further contributes to creating an additional space formed by the aggregate of all the built forms on the block. I often feel too many architects want all their work to be iconic which, by definition, cannot be so.

    Personally, I feel that given the way we build today (materials, techniques, etc.) few people will be fooled into the thinking new construction is actually historic (and somehow detracting from the truly old buildings), so I tend also to support this second approach to infill in historic areas.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  11. #11
    There are quite a few examples of new row houses here in London. (Can't post links until I've made 5 posts, so will need to come back later).

    I'd agree that high quality modern architecture is the best way to deal with infill sites in historic areas, as most attempts to reproduce historic architecture fail completely.

  12. #12
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    There are a few good examples of this type of development in the area near the University of Illinois at Chicago on the West Side of the city, particulary on the west side of the University in the Little Italy area. One very good example in particular is a development that is about 10, maybe more years, old near the Whitney Young High School in the Jackson Boulevard historic district at Jackson and Ashland. The block is dominated by gorgeous old rowhouses and townhomes, but the western portion of the block are all new rowhouses.They blend in very well and I think helped salvage the neighborhood.

    Look up zip code 60607 for examples.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I've got a plan on my desk for something similar, I'll let you know if it goes over well in the "Sprawling West" .
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  14. #14
    A couple of examples of recent housing developments in historic areas:


    Some modern row houses in Limehouse, East London
    Some older row houses (mews houses) in north London

  15. #15
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    ablarc had a nice photo essay that included some awesome townhouses in NC.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cjsharpe View post
    A couple of examples of recent housing developments in historic areas:


    Some modern row houses in Limehouse, East London
    Some older row houses (mews houses) in north London

    Dang! Them's some ugly!!

    There are considerably less awkward and gloomy examples of recent townhouses built in London; now if only I can go get a couple of shots...
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    Most of the City of Philadelphia.
    Manila, TOO. Lots of that within the urban core.

  18. #18
    Member Martin's avatar
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    In the city of Ottawa (Canada), 18% of owner-occupied dwellings are townhouses or rowhouses. Over 30% of new housing starts are of that type. When it comes to infill specifically, the statistic is 12%, down partly because of a surge in apartment building, spurred on by policies that waive half the taxes and most development fees for larger apartment buildings.

    I can't post a URL, but if you go to the ottawa.ca web site, under "Ottawa Counts" there are articles under residential intensification statistics.

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