Urban Avengers: City DNA


Residents at 2207-2209 Neil Avenue have on-street parking as well as one or two lots behind the house; it wasn’t entirely clear whether the second lot belonged to this property or another, but all together the lot was 130 ft deep and 32 ft in width. This property seemed to have ample parking, especially since the lot coverage was approximately 65% of the total lot, which also accounted for a 15 ft front setback and 3.5 ft side setback. The right-of-way is around 62 ft, including the 6 ft sidewalk. The alley primary inflicts more negatives on the tenants due to loud noise from students leaving the bar and having unfamiliar traffic so close to your home. This is definitely a residential property, the surrounding land uses are both residential and commercial. It is compatible with the property because there are college attractions for the tenants. The benefits of living at 2207-2209 are its location, as it is fairly close to several academic buildings and attractions that support the college lifestyle (i.e. the football stadium and tailgating festivities). The drawbacks are lack of privacy and noise due to the large amount of traffic in front of the property and to the side (and also those attractions mentioned above could serve as a drawback in certain circumstances). Some team members thought that due to its location and appearance, it probably was very affordable and that would make it appealing to live there; however other team members felt the noise and traffic issues make it an undesirable place to live.



On Norwich Avenue there is only lighting on one side of the street, which we believe should be sufficient. The street lights are approximately 60ft apart. The electric and television cable both appear to be above ground, probably due to the limited amount of right-of-way footage. The character of Norwich is more communal based, smaller and compacted. It feels campus-y and affordable. This is due to the small setback, upwards-built tall buildings, compacted parking and ample lot coverage.



We think the Norwich Avenue width permits a good traffic flow because there is sufficient space at approximately 30ft. Street parking did not appear to be problematic at this time of day, we felt due to the ample width of the street itself.  We did note that it was city permit street parking so this fact combined with several off-street parking lots make on-street parking in this location suitable and a good idea. The sidewalks appear to be less than “standard” measuring at only 3.8ft in width. This width is not conducive to two people being able to comfortably walk next to each other or pass one another.



The average front setbacks on Norwich Avenue were approximately 10 ft with an average of 10.5 ft. side setbacks. In comparison, Northwood’s setbacks, both front and side, are larger by about 5 feet each.



The footprint and setback of 128-134 W Norwich Avenue is very efficient. It leaves a clustered footprint, but has a unique parking structure. This property flows with the area design and it’s a benefit for the apartments to have two parking areas per apartment.


The parking configuration of Williams St and unnamed alley is not practical for the driver because they can easily get blocked in. It does ease street parking and it’s helpful that the parking spaces correspond and are labeled per apartment. There are some good examples of more efficient way of parking as shown on the picture on the right. We think that planning resident area like this should be really about balance between space efficiency and convenience of residents.



The red brick walls on Northwood Avenue near Williams Street seem to serve largely as markers for the apartment complexes. It is possible to view it as a safety measure in that it would provide protection from any vehicles that might veer off the road at this intersection of street/alley.  However, although decorative, overall it is not necessarily a good, functional design for this area.



On Northwood Avenue the south side sidewalk is 5ft, while the north side sidewalk is 6ft and in better condition. The street is 30ft in width, similarly to Norwich, but it felt smaller. Even though one way streets can be a hassle to navigate, especially in an area that one’s not familiar with we felt it is the best option as this one way street relieves congestion and makes street parking easier.



The average front setback on Northwood is approximately 20ft and the sides are 6ft. Overall it’s a nice street because it’s efficient, but still residential and has an appropriate amount of grass for the area.



The structure at 2244 Neil Avenue, with it’s current use (real estate office), does not seem appropriate for it’s placement. At first glance, we entertained various ideas of its origin (one team member thought it possibly could have been an auto repair based on the appearance), but we were given a brief history by its tenant and discovered that its original use was as the local grocery store and that the owners/operators had their living quarters above the store itself. We collectively agreed that in the current time and based on its surroundings, it could effectively serve as a small apartment building (3 or 4 separate apartments) today and the thick walls (11 inches of brick per the tenant) could help with insulation. It could be mixed zoning, commercial or residential.


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