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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 2:04 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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How would you "fix" your neighborhood?

I thought this would be an interesting exercise for the forum, basically profile your own neighborhood and highlight the ways - presuming you had political power and a multi-million dollar budget as a civic agency/developer - that you would "fix" the shortcomings of the neighborhood.

Anyway, I'll start.

My own neighborhood in Pittsburgh is Morningside. It is a geographically long, skinny neighborhood, with most of the neighborhood only four short blocks deep east to west, but extending a good 1.2 miles from north to south. It's pretty much a classic "streetcar suburban" type neighborhood, built out almost entirely between 1900 and 1930. The housing stock is mostly detached single-family homes on tight lots, though there are stands of rowhouses, two flats, and occasional mid-century apartment buildings. There is a business district, which is more substantial than it first seems, since instead of being linear it sort of spills across many streets around where the streetcar used to loop before turning back towards the city.

The far southern portions of the neighborhood were slightly impacted by mid-century white flight, but on the whole the neighborhood remained 99% intact even through the "bad period" for cities in the mid 20th century. Historically the neighborhood was working to lower-middle class and heavily Italian, but it's now slowly being taken over by young professional couples with small children and/or dogs. Real estate values are appreciating fairly rapidly now, in line with other neighborhoods in the East End of Pittsburgh.

Anyway, some of the big neighborhood flaws, and my thoughts:

Road Design:

Our neighborhood has four main north-to-south streets. Duffield is a relatively low-traffic street, which is two way though really there is only space for one lane of travel when cars are parked on both sides of the street. This means that it sort of operates like a "woonerf" by default. Morningside Ave is the widest, and is functional as a two-lane street, serving as the main automotive thoroughfare for those driving through the neighborhood.

The problem is the other two streets, Jancey and Chislett. These streets were designed before the advent of cars, being first the right of way for the old streetcar loop, and are relatively narrow. The city has set up both of them as being one way streets in opposite directions. Set up as one way, and discounting the parking lanes, this means a single travel lane which is 16-17 feet wide. Both one-way streets and wide travel lanes of course promote speeding, along with the blowing of the stop signs which are present at every single block. In a neighborhood with universal sidewalk coverage and lots of children, this can lead to some very dangerous near misses.

If I had my druthers, and a budget, I'd do one of two things. One option would be to just convert both streets into two ways. Having 8 to 8.5 foot travel lanes is a bit on the tight side, but it should work fairly well in a quiet mostly residential neighborhood. Even if there are some scrapes, they will happen at low speeds and be unlikely to result in fatalities. The other option is to continue to have the streets as one way, but to have a road diet, reducing the travel lane to something more like 10 feet, with the new space on either side of the street given over to bike lanes, expanded sidewalks, or a larger grassy median between the sidewalk and the street.

Commercial Vitality:

There is no two ways around it - our local business district sucks. There's around 40 potential spaces for business. Some of them are vacant, or used as apartment units. A larger proportion are used by functional but "boring" businesses - realtors, small law firms, physical therapists, etc. Somehow, we support four different women's hair salons. But in terms of amenities my family and I use, there's very little. There's a neighborhood pub and restaurant with some nice outdoor seating, but the food is terrible. We finally got a coffeeshop again this month after a two-year absence. My wife sometimes uses a fabric store which relocated from another, more expensive neighborhood nearby. But after that the biggest neighborhood amenity for us is the Rite-Aid.

I have some faith that as the neighborhood continues to skew more young and upscale, the business mix will begin to change. But the central development problem is the neighborhood only has a bit over 3,000 people, which is not enough in the modern era to sustain a full-service business district. The residential portions of the neighborhood are by and large full up too. There are a scattered few lots still empty, and we get maybe 2-3 infill homes per decade, but the ability of that to happen is pretty limited. And even though the area is gentrifying, there's pretty much no hope that local real estate prices will rise enough to warrant teardowns and upzoning - even if zoning allowed for it.

I think basically the only hope for adding additional people is in the area immediately around the business district itself. There are numerous under-built parcels, such as this. Even the more historic buildings, due to the age the neighborhood was built out, are often one-story. LNC zoning in Pittsburgh allows for up to three stories/40 feet, with apartments on the upper floors, and winning a variance to four stories is not impossible. I think it's feasible with this sort of infill to get up to 500 units of additional housing - particularly if it's paired with some modest extension of the LNC zone to take in a few subdivided homes immediately adjacent. An additional benefit would be to turn more of the storefronts towards the common cross street (Greenwood) giving the neighborhood business district more of discrete feel.

On another note, the neighborhood is, as I noted, quite long from north to south. I live in the far southern portion, and it takes me nearly 15 minutes to walk to the local business district - basically the same amount of time as the (much nicer) business district the next neighborhood over. Really I'm in kind of a commercial dead zone where there are no nearby commercial amenities. Some sort of spot zoning to create a secondary business district in my area would be ideal. This area is right by by house. It's zoned residential, although it has a "grandfathered in" hair salon, and until recently had a sketchy convenience store as well. Pairing the two properties already set aside for ground-floor commercial with some of the nearby rental properties, you could theoretically get the nexus of a nice secondary neighborhood commercial district here.

Beautification:

I dunno if it's because this neighborhood used to be an old Italian area or what, but there's a real lack of street tree coverage. I don't think that every type of housing typology needs street trees - zero-setback rowhouses look fine without them for example - but housing typologies like this really call out for trees. Also, the neighborhood has close to universal alley coverage, yet three out of the four north-south routes have utility poles and wires cluttering up the street views. I'd restring them inside the alleys.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 2:34 PM
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I live in the suburbs of Portland. The walk is quick to the train and it’s a 25 minute ride downtown but all the nice neighborhoods in East Portland aren’t on MAX lines. Transferring to bus adds too much time and the traffic is horrendous so it makes me not go into the city except on the weekends or only when I absolutely have to. I work in the opposite direction and love my job so moving closer in really isn’t an option. So, I wish I had more I could walk to in the immediate vicinity of my house, but I also wish the MAX was a more efficient subway that reached more neighborhoods more frequently.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 2:48 PM
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I live in Royal Pines, which started life in the 1920's as a residential development, and, mapped boundaries notwithstanding, also includes the area between Sweeten Creek Road and Hendersonville Road. That area is the originally platted Royal Pines area, while the areas on the other side of Sweeten Creek were called Mount Royal. Mapped boundaries also notwithstanding, the heart of the neighborhood is centered around the intersection of Royal Pines Drive and Sweeten Creek Road. The neighborhood was built on the grounds of the former Blake estate, and the Blake House, dating from 1847, still stands and is now a bed-and-breakfast inn. Meanwhile, only a handful of other houses got built in Royal Pines/Mount Royal before the stock market crash in 1929, and the neighborhood filled in after World War II. That being the case, I would preserve every pre-war house that did get built in the area between Sweeten Creek and Hendersonville, demolish everything else, and densely rebuild the entire area according to new urbanist principles. I would make Jake Rusher Park the centerpiece of a small neighborhood commercial district with shops at ground level and apartments above, then redo the rest of the neighborhood in brownstone-style rowhouses.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 5:39 PM
lio45 lio45 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hauntedheadnc View Post
I live in Royal Pines, which started life in the 1920's as a residential development, and, mapped boundaries notwithstanding, also includes the area between Sweeten Creek Road and Hendersonville Road. That area is the originally platted Royal Pines area, while the areas on the other side of Sweeten Creek were called Mount Royal. Mapped boundaries also notwithstanding, the heart of the neighborhood is centered around the intersection of Royal Pines Drive and Sweeten Creek Road. The neighborhood was built on the grounds of the former Blake estate, and the Blake House, dating from 1847, still stands and is now a bed-and-breakfast inn. Meanwhile, only a handful of other houses got built in Royal Pines/Mount Royal before the stock market crash in 1929, and the neighborhood filled in after World War II. That being the case, I would preserve every pre-war house that did get built in the area between Sweeten Creek and Hendersonville, demolish everything else, and densely rebuild the entire area according to new urbanist principles. I would make Jake Rusher Park the centerpiece of a small neighborhood commercial district with shops at ground level and apartments above, then redo the rest of the neighborhood in brownstone-style rowhouses.
Interesting, I was expecting you to live much closer to Asheville itself (the urban core), and in a much less suburban area than that.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 2:58 PM
DCReid DCReid is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I thought this would be an interesting exercise for the forum, basically profile your own neighborhood and highlight the ways - presuming you had political power and a multi-million dollar budget as a civic agency/developer - that you would "fix" the shortcomings of the neighborhood.

Anyway, I'll start.

My own neighborhood in Pittsburgh is Morningside. It is a geographically long, skinny neighborhood, with most of the neighborhood only four short blocks deep east to west, but extending a good 1.2 miles from north to south. It's pretty much a classic "streetcar suburban" type neighborhood, built out almost entirely between 1900 and 1930. The housing stock is mostly detached single-family homes on tight lots, though there are stands of rowhouses, two flats, and occasional mid-century apartment buildings. There is a business district, which is more substantial than it first seems, since instead of being linear it sort of spills across many streets around where the streetcar used to loop before turning back towards the city.

The far southern portions of the neighborhood were slightly impacted by mid-century white flight, but on the whole the neighborhood remained 99% intact even through the "bad period" for cities in the mid 20th century. Historically the neighborhood was working to lower-middle class and heavily Italian, but it's now slowly being taken over by young professional couples with small children and/or dogs. Real estate values are appreciating fairly rapidly now, in line with other neighborhoods in the East End of Pittsburgh.

Anyway, some of the big neighborhood flaws, and my thoughts:

Road Design:

Our neighborhood has four main north-to-south streets. Duffield is a relatively low-traffic street, which is two way though really there is only space for one lane of travel when cars are parked on both sides of the street. This means that it sort of operates like a "woonerf" by default. Morningside Ave is the widest, and is functional as a two-lane street, serving as the main automotive thoroughfare for those driving through the neighborhood.

The problem is the other two streets, Jancey and Chislett. These streets were designed before the advent of cars, being first the right of way for the old streetcar loop, and are relatively narrow. The city has set up both of them as being one way streets in opposite directions. Set up as one way, and discounting the parking lanes, this means a single travel lane which is 16-17 feet wide. Both one-way streets and wide travel lanes of course promote speeding, along with the blowing of the stop signs which are present at every single block. In a neighborhood with universal sidewalk coverage and lots of children, this can lead to some very dangerous near misses.

If I had my druthers, and a budget, I'd do one of two things. One option would be to just convert both streets into two ways. Having 8 to 8.5 foot travel lanes is a bit on the tight side, but it should work fairly well in a quiet mostly residential neighborhood. Even if there are some scrapes, they will happen at low speeds and be unlikely to result in fatalities. The other option is to continue to have the streets as one way, but to have a road diet, reducing the travel lane to something more like 10 feet, with the new space on either side of the street given over to bike lanes, expanded sidewalks, or a larger grassy median between the sidewalk and the street.

Commercial Vitality:

There is no two ways around it - our local business district sucks. There's around 40 potential spaces for business. Some of them are vacant, or used as apartment units. A larger proportion are used by functional but "boring" businesses - realtors, small law firms, physical therapists, etc. Somehow, we support four different women's hair salons. But in terms of amenities my family and I use, there's very little. There's a neighborhood pub and restaurant with some nice outdoor seating, but the food is terrible. We finally got a coffeeshop again this month after a two-year absence. My wife sometimes uses a fabric store which relocated from another, more expensive neighborhood nearby. But after that the biggest neighborhood amenity for us is the Rite-Aid.

I have some faith that as the neighborhood continues to skew more young and upscale, the business mix will begin to change. But the central development problem is the neighborhood only has a bit over 3,000 people, which is not enough in the modern era to sustain a full-service business district. The residential portions of the neighborhood are by and large full up too. There are a scattered few lots still empty, and we get maybe 2-3 infill homes per decade, but the ability of that to happen is pretty limited. And even though the area is gentrifying, there's pretty much no hope that local real estate prices will rise enough to warrant teardowns and upzoning - even if zoning allowed for it.

I think basically the only hope for adding additional people is in the area immediately around the business district itself. There are numerous under-built parcels, such as this. Even the more historic buildings, due to the age the neighborhood was built out, are often one-story. LNC zoning in Pittsburgh allows for up to three stories/40 feet, with apartments on the upper floors, and winning a variance to four stories is not impossible. I think it's feasible with this sort of infill to get up to 500 units of additional housing - particularly if it's paired with some modest extension of the LNC zone to take in a few subdivided homes immediately adjacent. An additional benefit would be to turn more of the storefronts towards the common cross street (Greenwood) giving the neighborhood business district more of discrete feel.

On another note, the neighborhood is, as I noted, quite long from north to south. I live in the far southern portion, and it takes me nearly 15 minutes to walk to the local business district - basically the same amount of time as the (much nicer) business district the next neighborhood over. Really I'm in kind of a commercial dead zone where there are no nearby commercial amenities. Some sort of spot zoning to create a secondary business district in my area would be ideal. This area is right by by house. It's zoned residential, although it has a "grandfathered in" hair salon, and until recently had a sketchy convenience store as well. Pairing the two properties already set aside for ground-floor commercial with some of the nearby rental properties, you could theoretically get the nexus of a nice secondary neighborhood commercial district here.

Beautification:

I dunno if it's because this neighborhood used to be an old Italian area or what, but there's a real lack of street tree coverage. I don't think that every type of housing typology needs street trees - zero-setback rowhouses look fine without them for example - but housing typologies like this really call out for trees. Also, the neighborhood has close to universal alley coverage, yet three out of the four north-south routes have utility poles and wires cluttering up the street views. I'd restring them inside the alleys.
I don't see that much wrong with your neighborhood to 'fix' it from looking at Google maps. Maybe a few small tweeks here and there, but it looks mostly fine and it seems to be very walkable and kind of cute. Maybe you don't know (perhaps because of your age?), but in the 60's they tried to 'fix' neighborhoods and that plan did not work out too well. Yes, it was mostly the government, I would not have that much more faith in billionaires and businesses to fix them either.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 3:16 PM
iheartthed iheartthed is offline
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I like almost everything about my neighborhood. But I would move the bike lanes to curbside, instead of being between the vehicular traffic lane and parking lane. This needs to be fixed in many parts of NYC.

Bad: https://goo.gl/maps/bQ3SjexSbjiPfRwWA
Good: https://goo.gl/maps/knSMrx5muzE36m6N9
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  #7  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 5:29 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCReid View Post
I don't see that much wrong with your neighborhood to 'fix' it from looking at Google maps. Maybe a few small tweeks here and there, but it looks mostly fine and it seems to be very walkable and kind of cute. Maybe you don't know (perhaps because of your age?), but in the 60's they tried to 'fix' neighborhoods and that plan did not work out too well. Yes, it was mostly the government, I would not have that much more faith in billionaires and businesses to fix them either.
Basically what I suggested was.

1. Road diet on two major streets to cut down on speeding.
2. More multifamily in the business district to spur local commercial demand.
3. More street trees.
4. Relocation of unsightly utility poles.

All of these are pretty minor except for the second point, and none of it comes anywhere near to the "urban renewal" threshold.

Last edited by eschaton; Jul 30, 2019 at 5:46 PM.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 3:48 PM
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I live in the Belltown district on the NW edge of Downtown Seattle, basically I'd guess about 200 acres (depending on definition) between the CBD and the Space Needle. It's been growing as a residential district for decades and has reached maybe 40,000 per square mile. It also has a scattering of offices and hotels, and gets a lot of tourists walking through especially during the five-month cruise ship season. There's plenty wrong with the neighborhood.

1. No supermarket. We're surrounded by supermarkets and the Pike Place Market but none are in the immediate area. Personally I use corner stores a lot.

2. Gaps. The neighborhood will need to grow by 50% to feel complete and cohesive.

3. Wide streets. Seattle is an isthmus, and a lot of pass-through traffic goes through Belltown and Downtown. Even so, the avenues are wider than traffic warrants. We narrowed Second Avenue by widening the sidewalks and adding a separated bike lane...others could use similar treatment.

4. Queuing cars blocking crosswalks. Fifth Avenue is gridlocked for a mile leading to I-5 (through the CBD), and we don't crack down on assholes blocking crosswalks.

5. Too many retail streets. We require retail in new developments pretty much universally, which means there's too much retail space and it's scattered instead of concentrated. There are a couple good restaurant/bar corridors, but the rest could really use consolidation. We should make two streets required retail and let the others add density without making the problem worse.

6. Lack of light rail. Like Seattle in general, Belltown's buses beat many cities' rail. But Belltown merits a top-level type of transit, particularly with how it's growing. A new subway route heading northwest from the CBD will be built, but it's heading for South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne instead...deserving areas, but Belltown is again the hole in the middle.

7. Not tall or dense enough. Seattle has upzoned many areas, but Belltown is still the land limited to stubby highrises for the most part, and parts don't allow highrises at all.

8. Not enough daytime population. Belltown restaurants do far more evening business than daytimes. Too many places don't open for lunch. It's the opposite of South Lake Union. Belltown needs more offices, more hotels, and more other things that draw visitors vs. being a residential area and pass-through.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 5:47 PM
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The one thing I'd change about "my" neighborhood would be to try to bring some street level retail back into it. The urban fabric developed in the early 1800s (some buildings are from the 1700s; my duplex is from the 1830s which isn't that uncommon for the area) is relatively intact but it's strange that you need a car to live there - totally un-walkable.

A couple generations ago, I'm sure you could find anything you wanted right in the neighborhood - restaurants, hardware stores, clothing, etc.

Nowadays you have to drive to the big box shops (closest being the big mall on Route 132) for all of that.

https://www.google.com/maps/@46.8250...7i13312!8i6656




edit - for example, it's crystal clear that all three of the buildings you see in that view (two on your left, one on your right) used to have commercial retail at street level. Now it's all residential.
https://www.google.com/maps/@46.8249...7i13312!8i6656
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 5:50 PM
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No huge issues, but I would do the following:

1. Delandmark certain blocks that were landmarked due to NIMBY neighbors rather than architectural heritage, and allow higher density mixed income housing on such sites.

2. Neighborhood has excellent K-8 schools but no quality public high school. This should be a priority. Also, K-8 schools are overcrowded and in landmark structures, which can't easily be expanded.

3. While neighborhood retail is generally high quality and in attractive, mixed use historic buildings, there are a few atrocious midcentury taxpayer buildings that need to be razed and replaced by midrise contextual structures. Example- https://www.google.com/maps/@40.6729...7i16384!8i8192

4. We have a crapload of beautiful, historic Protestant churches that are barely hanging on (Brownstone Brooklyn is largely irreligious), and should probably be converted to housing.

5. Prospect Park is beautiful and well-used, but still a tad shabby in parts compared to Central Park. Could use a few more wealthy benefactors.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 6:45 PM
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Fun thread. I live in Trinidad, DC, the neighborhood you see here bounded by Florida Ave, West Virginia Ave, Mt Olivet Rd, and Bladensburg Rd.

I'd do the following:

1. Upzone. Today the neighborhood is a mix of a rowhouses, four-plexes, and low-rise apartments on Florida and Bladensburg. Many of the rowhouses have basement apartments. It's not quite dense enough to support a lot of stuff in walking range. And of course DC has a gigantic housing shortage. So Florida and Bladensburg get upzoned for 12 story buildings instead of 5 story buildings, and the rest of the neighborhood gets upzoned for 5 story apartments throughout.

2. Legalize mixed-use. Ground floor commercial is already legal on Florida, Bladensburg, and parts of Montello & Mt Olivet. At current density that is more than the neighborhood can support. But after upzoning, more will be possible. Thus I legalize small-scale neighborhood-serving ground floor commercial on Trinidad Avenue (think corners stores, dry cleaners, etc).

3. Consolidate transit onto Bladensburg Rd. Right now there's a bus line that comes every 15 minutes through my neighborhood, using the one-way-pair streets of Trinidad Ave and Montello Ave. There's also an every 15 minute bus on Bladensburg, and another every 15 minute bus in the next neighborhood to the east (Carver-Langston). I would consolidate all of these into a single every 5 minute line that goes on Bladensburg. Further, I would make it a streetcar (tying into the H Street streetcar just to the south), and I'd rebuild Bladensburg to have a transitway down the middle and cycletracks on either side, with only 1 or 2 through lanes for cars. The streetcar transitway would follow Bladensburg north, join US Route 1, and extend into Maryland until somewhere just short of the Beltway.

4. Make it bikeable. One parking spot on each block is replaced with a bikeshare station. Cycletracks are added to Florida, Bladensburg, West Virginia, Mt Olivet, and Holbrook.

5. Open up the institutional land uses. On three of Trinidad's borders, institutional land uses that are mostly closed off to the neighborhood box us in. To the west, Gallaudet University demolishes the locked gate at Switzer Drive, and builds a new street connecting to Neal Street in Trinidad. To the north, Mt Olivet Cemetery builds public gates at Trinidad Ave and Holbrook Street, and leaves them unlocked in the daytime. To the northeast, the National Arboretum re-opens its closed Maryland Avenue gate, and builds a new gate at the corner of Bladensburg/Mt Olivet/17th.

6. Improve the parks. Opening up the institutional neighbors will vastly improve access to large informal green spaces, but the neighborhood lacks a more formal central gathering place. Existing parks next to Wheatley school and the Trinidad Rec Center are nice for children (but I'd add shade) but offer nothing for adults, and are off the main paths and thus ill-suited as gathering places. Future redevelopment of Starburst Plaza just southeast of the neighborhood will add a good plaza, but Trinidad itself will still need one. So I will bulldoze the block of rowhouses bounded by Trinidad Avenue, Levis St, Orren St, and Oates St, and replace it with a formal "town square" similar to Stanton Park in nearby Capitol Hill. Put a fountain in the middle of it instead of an equestrian statue.

7. Add missing civic buildings. Build a library at the corner of Trinidad Ave and Neal St. Build a post office near the Starburst. Replace the shitty corrugated metal church on Mt Olivet Rd with a classic stone building with a steeple, on Trinidad Ave near the new library.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 8:11 PM
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I live in Francisville, a Philadelphia neighborhood considered to be in "Greater Center City". The borders are as follows: Girard Avenue to the north, Fairmount Avenue to the south, Broad Street to the east, and Corinthian Avenue to the west. Francisville is unique due to the diagonal Ridge Avenue cutting through the neighborhood and disrupting the grid system. Additionally, the neighborhood technically has three commercial strips: Broad Street, Ridge Avenue, and Fairmount Avenue. This neighborhood fell on hard times during the period of white flight and suburbanization, but has been fundamentally transformed since the early 2010s.

Here's what I'd do to improve the neighborhood:

1.) Zoning

All parcels fronting Broad Street would be designated as anywhere between CMX-4 and CMX-5, with the latter being the most permissive zoning category in the city. CMX-5 would especially be implemented around the Girard stop on the Broad Street Line, which hosts local, express, and Ridge-Spur service. Currently, the intersection of Broad and Girard is mostly auto-centric: a standalone KFC (and Checker's behind it), standalone CVS, and a gas station/McDonald's combo occupy the northwestern, southwestern, and northeastern corners respectively.

2.) Bike lanes

Ridge Avenue would receive defined bike lanes, and one lane of parking would be removed to host a protected bike lane along 15th Street. There is absolutely no reason for as much parking as there is along 15th Street, as it is one block over from the Broad Street Line. Fairmount Avenue's bike lanes would become parking-protected.

3.) Lighting

Girard, Ridge, and Fairmount Avenues would all receive pedestrian-scaled lighting. Lighting would also be increased around the Girard BSL stop.

4.) Special Services District

A Francisville Special Services District would be established for more frequent trash pickup, street sweeping, and the encouragement of businesses to open along Broad Street and Ridge Avenue. Ridge Avenue will see the greatest benefits of new business development due to the influx of new retail space coming online.

5.) An improved Fairmount BSL stop

The upper and lower levels of the Fairmount stop would benefit from a deep cleaning and better lighting.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2019, 8:23 PM
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streets and sidewalks - i live just one block beyond the edge of the pre-war metropolitan grid, on a mid mod street in a suburb founded before world war one, so there's some inconsistencies i'd love to smooth out. much of the pre-1940 area has nice sidewalks with nice wide chicago/great lakes/beverly hills style tree-lawns (wider than st. louis city proper) which i'd love to see everywhere. my block itself has one curb-hugging sidewalk in front of my house...i'd prefer a tree lawn. there's a lot of funky dead ends, semi-private streets, and proto cul-de-sacs which i'm conflicted about...on one hand the neighborhood kids love to play roller hockey on these half-closed off streets, but there's a boulevard with a big cypress shaded neutral ground at the end of the hill that dead ends into a bunch of boulders and trees, and the street starts up right on the other side. a lot of that just needs to be fixed.

transit - there are some underground light rail stops in my suburb, i'd like to see another line though, i'd like to see more frequent headways on bus lines, and a dumb heritage trolley replaced with a low floor skoda that would run from one end of the boulevard near my house down into the city proper to forest park. it currently ends at the end of a 1920s comerrcial district and doesn't extend down through the pre-war neighborhood beyond it stretching away from the city.

i live a few blocks from a 1920s/1930s low rise mini-commercial node that could use some minor infill. there's a pad starbucks on a corner that is opposite mixed use commercial storefronts two different directions that must die.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2019, 1:58 AM
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I live an apartment complex, so my neighborhood isn't a neighborhood and it isn't mine either.

Instead of worrying about fixing existing non-neighborhoods in modern sprawling cities(a fool's errand, really), it would be far more interesting to build completely new neighborhoods in a different way from the norm.

I'm not talking about twee early 2000's New Urbanism with proscribed porch wainscotting and an unattainable goal to have lots of ground floor retail in a low traffic location. More like- stimulate the growth of unapologetic edge cities by laying out major roads and siting anchors like new community college campuses or hospitals(not a public function, but they can benefit from donated land and grants). Using things like parks and schools to shape neighborhoods because they are like magnets. Then once this skeleton is laid out, let the market build in an eclectic fashion. This would create real places, unlike the status quo of a bunch of insular subdivisions with one way in and out.

When you think about it, urban planning shouldn't be limited to land use zoning, in fact it can be so much more even in the absence of it. In my ideal world, planning is holistic and encompasses the coordination of the physical aspects of all infrastructure and services government is responsible for providing. This sounds communist, but...so what? Maybe in this case it is the better approach. The alternative of reacting to the whims of real estate developers is often more wasteful of public funds in the long run. Turns out spending money on roads and sewers to low density areas of declining land values and tax revenue is not fiscally sustainable. The other alternative of not subsidizing anything doesn't stop sprawl so it doesn't stop you from ending up with an archipelago of needy people and urban problems that's harder to deal with.
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  #15  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2019, 2:56 AM
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Steely Dan Steely Dan is offline
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Location: Lincoln Square, Chicago
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The 4 most crucial needs for my area of Lincoln Square:

1. Kill the fucking McD's.

2. Kill the fucking Burger King.

3. Kill the fucking post office.

4. Kill the fucking surface parking lots for MB bank.
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  #16  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2019, 5:16 AM
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Location: Palatine
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^^^McD's to the buildings at Rockwell, dream big.

My burb of Palatine has a great Metra connection to Chicago, only 40min. The area around the station needs to fill out more. Plans were cancelled in 2007 and investment hasn't made it back out here yet.

We need better bike path connections, but there's a wetland in the way and no one will pay for an elevated path. We also need a cross burb bus (roughly perpendicular to the metra tracks) that connects some dense apartment blocks on the north to the metra station and then to the neighborhood and excellent community college on the south.
This will always be an auto oriented burb, but it's very walkable throughout and it can only be made better.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2019, 5:57 AM
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Replace basically any 1950s/60s postwar construction, including a few blocks built as council housing, with something not entirely hideous. The high street around one of the local tube stops (which was also heavily bombed during WW2) needs to be redeveloped on a larger scale for the same reason.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2019, 6:42 AM
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muppet muppet is offline
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Location: London
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Basically I live in a no-mans land between suburbia and city living. And not necessarily in a best-of-both-worlds way.

I'd like to slot some highrises and mixed-use in the numerous street gaps and maybe impinge on the unused green space (the kind made up of weeds, rubbish and a scraggly tree that noone uses, or those mindless anodyne acres of grass in front of housing that noone uses).

Basically my area has great public transport with 5 train/ overground stations, but with such relatively low semi-suburban density they're very underused. It was a former tourist site (Crystal Palace) that used to attract millions in the Edwardian era, before the entire complex burned down.

Useless patches of grass and boarded off emptiness like on the left that line many of the roads and make it even more suburban. At least plant it imo (like on the right).



Add a mixed use storey or two to the bungalows. With London's pressing housing shortage and population boom you'd never notice it was happening. Instead everything just gets subdivided up and the big developments go to foreign investors who only park money in them.



The other side of the street looks like this. The area was voted best place to live in London last year, in part thanks to the council only allowing independent businesses onto the Triangle. Behind the shop and restaurant fronts a housing estate (a tranquil mix of Victorian terraces and midrise flats that mix the classes) forms the heart of the district. It's lined with bakeries, nurseries, cafes, food vans, restaurants, pet shops, traditional pubs, hipster bars, charity shops, antique dealers, pound shops, spas, churches, bookshops and even those rare internet cafes - all independent (except the Costa, can't get rid of Costa), even the library that's also a bar/cafe, or the art deco restored cinema. It's a sign that the posh dining faces the kebab joints in remarkable similar buildings, or that the fried chicken shop and polski skleps are upmarket while the French bistrot and antique dealers are down-at-heel. However for all that jazz the businesses don't last too long due to the lowered, semi-suburban population the minute you leave the area. In other words the council's done everything right, but are stumped by the historical urban planning.



By rights London should have a population density similar to NYC or Paris, but the large amounts of open space and the longstanding aversion to highrises (until recently) ensures it doesn't. Instead Londoners suffer the smallest housing in the West (even more so than the Japanese), and everyone house shares. The reality is it's residential ground is very dense, for example a street housing 2-3x the amount of people it was built to, but that's interspersed with acres of parkland or verging, or just with many plots empty.

One of the densest tracts in Europe for example doesn't show up on paper as it manifests itself as such - dense blocks islanded. The tower in the park idea is all very nice, but the lack of landscaping or amenities means those open areas are under utilised if at all. Theyre now pushing legislation for the land companies to stop sitting on empty lots for decades at a time as investments:




Less of this:



More of this (both similar residential density, and just as green)


Last edited by muppet; Jul 31, 2019 at 7:39 AM.
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  #19  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2019, 9:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muppet View Post
More of this (both similar residential density, and just as green)

Unfortunately this can no longer be built, anywhere. It either exists (and should be protected, and not turned into highrises) or it doesn’t.

Also shouldn’t ever tear down Georgian or Victorian terraced housing to replace with higher density buildings, because those can similarly not be replaced, unless you can charge £2+ million per house to justify the build costs. There is some new build housing near me that does a decent (albeit not perfect) approximation of Georgian housing, but the area has the prices to support it.
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There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge." - Isaac Asimov
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  #20  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2019, 3:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muppet View Post

Wow this is about the most beautiful streetscape I have ever seen.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with my neighborhood, although I think it needs more density (along with a lot of non-core neighborhoods in Chicago) as de-conversations threaten some of the urban amenities we love. A couple of years ago Lincoln Ave (a main arterial street through my and many other neighborhoods) lost its bus route--the alderman at the time cited a loss of density due to de-conversions as one of the main culprits. Currently anything off the main arterial streets is zoned as SFH residential so the only multifamily buildings in the neighborhood were basically grandfathered in (luckily there are quite a few). Change that first.

Secondly, Chicago has to get out from under the DISASTROUS deal that privatized metered parking the city. That way we could begin taking underused parking lanes out and adding in dedicated bus routes, greatly expanding the reach, viability and appeal of non-rail transit in the city.

Some random empty lots and surface lots around the neighborhood need to go, but there is good movement on that front.

Lastly, a more attrative/pedestrian friendly Irving Park Rd (Wider sidewalks with more planters/streets, protected bike lanes, etc.): https://www.google.com/maps/@41.9542...7i16384!8i8192
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