Friday, July 25, 2008

Development Tracker - Ansley Parkside

I tend to avoid high-traffic areas if I can, which means it had been quite a while since I drove down by Ansley Mall on Monroe Drive. I did so this morning, and noticed that Ansley Parkside townhomes are well under construction.

I think townhomes right there are a good fit, in terms of density and neighborhood character. I could actually imagine walking to a lot of stuff from there. Another reason to like Lane Co. - and it looks like they are going with a traditional architecture, so well done.

I am ambivalent about their site plan, however. These criticisms are not a reflection of the quality of the project, but reflect my continued frustration with Atlanta's suburban road structure. This site plan is pretty typical of in-fill townhome communities, where you most of the homes are on interior lanes. It is the only way you can get the density needed to make the project economical when you are dealing with suburban-style lots.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but in my view the only appealing towhomes are the ones fronting the street. The rest just feel very suburban to me. It is part of the limitations of in-fill development. From an urban planning persepctive, I'd love to carve up the whole block from Monroe to Pelham into smaller lots. (I think the exisiting families on Pelham might complain.) As it is, these 41 units all feed onto Monroe, right at the mall.



    In reference to your comment about Pelham, check out the cover and p. 27. So much redevelopment potential in the vicinity of Ansley Mall...

    An urban design studio was undertaken at GT in Spring 2007, and helped provide the nhood (Piedmont Heights) with potential short and long term redevelopment visions.

  2. The problem with these types of studies is that they are great tools, but there is always a huge gaping hole in the plan to turn these into reality. So you end up with piece-mail infill that doesn't fit with the overall plan.

    You need some sort of well-funded financial entity who can buy the different parcels and hold them until a developer comes along at the right time. That is one of the appealing things about the BeltLine is that might actually happen in areas.

  3. "Suburban road structure" -- yep that's a big issue and an astute observation on your part. Atlanta really has the opportunity to become more urban in so many places -- it's funny to look at the map of downtown and see how so many of the intown neighborhoods already follow the classic city grid pattern -- and yet instead we often see lots of lost opportunity to jettison the suburban road structure.


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