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Welcome - my name is Kevin Klinkenberg, and this site "The Messy City" is my blog and company website. I started blogging on urban planning and design issues in 2007, and began working in the field in 1993. Please feel free to connect with me on any of the social media sites listed here. Thanks for reading.

Seen around Savannah

A few days ago I noticed this little infill development while out walking the dog. I don't know the history of the project, though it's obviously of recent origin - likely was built just before the recession or as it was hitting. A few things about it intrigue me:

  • It has a nice mix of duplexes and single-family houses
  • While Savannah has a good inventory of houses that from the lanes (alleys for you Northerners), these are distinct. For one, they're new, but more importantly they try to create a small gathering place off of the alley with the little green. Here are some ground-level photos, the last two showing context around it and across the street:

When planners and designers talk about the need for more density, people often think we mean this:

Instead, what we often advocate for is more high-quality infill that looks like what I'm showing in this post.

This little block is a great example of what can be done at a modest scale of one and two-story buildings. This block has a net numerical density of approximately 18 dwelling units per acre, which would likely put it at about the 90th percentile of density of all cities in the US. But it's still detached wood-frame buildings, and each unit still has dedicated private outdoor space, a small semi-public gathering space and their own off-street parking. Granted, some of the older cottages are quite small. But cities need small dwellings, too. Plenty of people prefer a small one-bedroom place and some can only afford as much.

It does all this while being attractive on the street and contributing quite a few people to the neighborhood. The mix is very diverse and even has a storefront opportunity on one corner. IMO, blocks like this can be the backbone of urban neighborhoods all over the country.

Would your city allow this? Would you want this as a neighbor?

"Plan" View

"Plan" View

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Walking to the store

Valuing grown-ups