Owner occupied duplexes create opportunities for new homeowners. (6 min read)

Use solar energy to offset cost of internet. (5 min read)

Denver reduced minimum parking requirements. (5 min read)

Bring back corner stores (3 min read)


Hey everybody it's Kyle. Where, on this podcast, I share, discuss, ponder, and try to connect some dots through the best content I've discovered each week related to urban planning, architecture, and cities.
I want to build with you case studies, discover examples, refine ideas, that hopefully inspire you as you go along your journey. If you don't have time to read, I'm trying to break down the patterns here and help you stay ahead of the curve.

Ultimately, trying to learn, what are the patterns of development?

4 things this week. We're going with a shorter more consise list format this week. We'll see how it goes.

  1. Owner occupied duplexes create opportunities for new homeowners.

A Development in Hartford’s CT North End aims to make home ownership affordable for low-income families. Each one of the buildings, 14 in total, are duplexes. A duplex meaning, not a detached single family home with one dwelling, but a structure that has two dwellings.

All the buyers are first-time homeowners who will live in one of their units and rent the other for about $1,300 per month. To qualify for a home, a family must have a combined household income of $30,000-$60,000. Al Gary, a member of Hartford-based builder Toraal Development, estimates these first-time homeowners will have about $2,000 in monthly home expenses — including mortgage, utilities, taxes and reserves — with rental income bringing that down to about $800.

To make any development happen you need 3 things: An owner, a banker, the city. This is pretty straight forward from a city perspective. Creativity is required on the owner/banker side. The article sites The Capital Region Development Authority is contributing about $1.5 million to the project.

One more quote from the article:

“By the time we’re done, with what so-called profit there is, I’d probably make a dollar an hour,” Gary said, laughing as the rain slowed work on the muddy construction site. “That’s not what I’m doing this for. I’m more interested in building wealth. That’s what this does.”

  1. More affordable creativity.

Reading from the article by Emily Nonko:

John Crotty, founding member of the Workforce Housing Group in NY, considered the community benefits that might come from money saved through solar, honed in on the importance of accessible internet, and found the right partners to make the combination work. Using first-of-its-kind financing from the New York Green Bank, Workforce Housing Group will soon install solar panels on 18 of its Brooklyn buildings, with savings from solar generation going toward free broadband access for residents across 22 buildings.

This is Kyle again.

Internet access should be available to anyone and everyone. This is a brilliant way to get creative and offer an amenity that has become a lifeline for many whether it be school or work.

  1. Denver reduced their minimum parking requirements.

Love it. For new listeners:

Affordable housing is a supply and demand issue. Parking requirements are a significant obstacle to increasing supply. Reduce parking requirements. More supply. More supply less demand. Less demand equals lower rent.

Plus, there's the whole line of thinking that land is a cities most important asset. And we can probably use it for something better than car storage, like try to provide more affordable housing.

I'm painting with broad strokes here but that's the thought process.

  1. Bring back the corner store

An opinion piece from Sam Kraft in the Seattle times. I'm going to quote two paragraphs here that I love,

"Many of us will be working from home more than we used to. What if we could stitch together an itinerary walking around our neighborhoods that includes a stop at our block’s coworking space to attend a video meeting in a soundproof room, then a haircut and a sandwich at the deli down the street? We wouldn’t need to live right near a commercial hub if these businesses were distributed throughout our neighborhoods.

Let’s allow corner stores back into our neighborhoods. If you are concerned about this prospect, help to shape how we let them return. Let’s keep things human-scaled with local businesses and small structures that will nestle into our neighborhoods, just like the examples we already know. We can decide what uses to allow. Coffee? Yes. Grocery? Yes. Cellphone store? Hmm, I don’t think so. Kid’s art classes? Yes. Beer and wine on a patio with unamplified music? How about only before 8 p.m.? We can make rules about when deliveries are allowed to happen and where to keep trash. There’s much to discuss."

Love it Sam. He doesn't bring it up here but the popular trigger word at the moment? The 15-minute neighborhood. The trigger word. Every urbanists dream. Let's get some density. Let's walk.

A corner store helps tie up a lot of those loose ends. Of course the practicality of what Sam recommends, human-scale and let's have a conversation about what works. Change is inevitable and instead of resisting it, let's move forward.

I'll talk to y'all soon.