New Kids on the Block – How to Make Housing More Affordable

Our top 3 ideas were income based rent, alternative construction methods and home utility efficiency. Income based rent is a good idea because it helps those of lower salary afford adequate housing, and gives them the opportunity for socioeconomic growth. This way residents are not spending the majo12285772_10101232187114341_1177953525_nrity of their income on housing, but for furthering themselves in society. Alternative construction methods keep building costs low, and in turn, allows for the homes to cost less. An example of this is straw-bale. Straw-bale is very affordable and a great insulation source; keeping people warm for less. Methods such as grey water lets residents reuse water, decreasing their total water consumption on their monthly bill. Composting toilets help eliminate waste and users receive fertilizer at no cost. By prioritizing home efficiency, residents can save money monthly. This can be through the use of energy-saver light bulbs, proper insulation and high-efficiency appliances. In the long-run, these products show their value on the utility bill.

We would consider the best idea for making housing more affordable is alternative construction methods. We think this because it decreases the cost of a home upfront. This makes home-owning easier for those who don’t have the financial capability of depositing large sums of money at once for a down-payment. Since the homes cost less it also decreases the monthly mortgage payment, allowing home-owners to spend less of their monthly income on housing.


MAPS-Mini – New Kids on the Block


  1. What is missing from MAPS-Mini? What did you keep wanting to report but didn’t find on the survey tool?

We found that the MAPS-Mini never asked about the presence of street parking and if it was adequate for the street (too much, too little or just enough). We also wanted to report on the density of the street. The houses were quite close together, limiting privacy and sight-lines, we think this important to the audit.

  1. Did you find the public realm (streets/sidewalks) mattered more or less to you than private realm (buildings/parking lots)? Why?

We found the public realm mattered more to us. We saw some improvements to be made to the sidewalks. In between the two intersections the overall quality of the paths were decent, however we found many issues at the intersections. A few of these were the lack of crosswalks, ramps, truncated domes and appropriate signage/signals for crossing. Recent attempts of improvements may have made more problems because of incomplete crosswalks, tripping hazards, uneven ground and dead-end sidewalks.


cross4 (crosswalk and sidewalk future-model)

  1. What issues do you think would be more important to community members as opposed to planners?

We think street lighting, parking and condition of sidewalks are more important to community members. For planners, we think they would be more concerned with adding bike areas, outdoor public seating, buffers and the overall set up of both intersections. The intersection of Norwich and Tuttle is specifically concerning with the trip hazards, cut-off sidewalk and lack off crosswalks. The intersection of Norwich and High is disjointed and puts cyclists and pedestrians at risk. The addition of a high-visibility crosswalk, with ladder design, in-street signs and overhead signs and beacons would limit the danger to the public.


12207497_10101220621970981_1379030634_o (Norwich and High)high_norwich(High-visibility crosswalk solution)

12204867_10101220622030861_48517218_n(Norwich and High)

cross2(Crosswalk model)

solution1(High-visibility crosswalk)12209167_10101220622699521_1078021933_o



(Norwich and Tuttle)

Brownfield Redevelopment Client Work – New Kids on the Block

Oak Street Center for the Arts

             The redevelopment first started as a brownfield with several old, worn down buildings and torn up land in between. The buildings were dirty and crumbling, but a few of them showed potential. The area is surrounded by Franklin park to the North and Rainbow Park to the South. There is a one-way street (Kelton Avenue) running South to North on the West side of the brownfield, an alley North of the site, and Oak Street along the South edge of the brownfield. The neighborhood has many Churches, a couple parks and stores all ready, so we focused on what the area needs and will use.


We plan to revitalize the long building on the Western most edge of the property into a multi-use space. Half of it will be an artist studio with a very open, industrial design. This space will be used for trades such as pottery and glass work. There will be a wall separating the studio space from the other half, which will be used as an event space. In this event space there will be a built in bar/prep kitchen to be used for events. There is access to an outdoor patio of the Eastern side of the building. We see this event space being used for occasions such as galleries, banquets and wedding receptions.

crp 2110 art studio

For the building on the Eastern edge of the brownfield, we have the idea to restore it and use the space for a dance studio and music school. The studio will have a few different dance rooms, a viewing area, staff rooms and closets for costume/prop storage. The music school will have several rooms that are sound proof, offices, storage for instruments and a waiting area for parents. Since the neighborhood is mostly residential we predict these institutions being busy during after school hours as parents will sign their kids up for the programs.

music:dance crp 2110

We are keeping two additional buildings from the brownfield. These are the two small buildings located in the middle of the Southern edge. We have designated these buildings as artisan restaurants such as a bakery or wine and cheese eatery. There will be intimate outdoor space that includes a patio with plants and art from the art studio. The restaurants will feel very local, warm and friendly.

restaurants crp 2110

A new development we are adding is a residential unit on Northwestern corner of the field. There will be 8 townhomes with 2 families per house. The design will replicate that of row houses further East of Oak Street. The homes are facing the studio with green space in the front and back. Since the houses are similar to those around it, the cost will be in the same price range of them. The medium density and smaller size of the residential units will make sure the houses are affordable for the income of the neighborhood. Parking for the units is provide to the East of the development.

residential unit crp 2110

parking crp 21110 blog 5            The main entrance to the site will be on Oak Street, with an additional entrance on Kelton Avenue. Traffic will be controlled with one-way streets separated by medians with green space. The parking will consist of large concretes squares with grass in between. This controls water runoff, and also gives the option of using this lot for event space if desired. There will also be diagonal off street parking South of the dance/music school. The development will be very pedestrian friendly as we want to encourage surrounding residents to spend time and walk around the area.


The design of the buildings from the brownfield we are keeping will be preserved, and the new residential unit will look like others in the neighborhood. The row houses will be two floors and the existing developments will stay the way they are. We want the buildings to match those of the surrounding area because we want to keep the identity of the area and promote community.

We expect positive response from the neighborhood because the Oak Street Center for the Arts will promote local culture and municipality. The arts are a great way for kids and adults alike to express themselves, and our development is the perfect accessory. The skills and talents the kids have the chance to learn are important because they can provide excellent opportunities for their future such as scholarships and jobs. This is important in lower income areas because it gives the kids hope and motivation.

Redeveloping historic sites is a great way to preserve culture and community in a neighborhood. They create great spaces for people to gather and share experiences. These spaces can often become the heart of a community and the identifying element of a town.


New Kids on the Block – Analyzing Local Neighborhood Food Environments

Food Environment of the Weinland Park Community

New Kids on the Block

crp blog4 The area of the food environment study is the space shown above. Throughout the area, there a couple busy one-way streets, some small roads, and worn-out alley ways. There are adequate bus stops along the main roads, however those living further away from the roads would have to walk a bit to a stop. This could be dangerous at night, as lighting is scattered and only on one side of the busier streets. Alley ways and small roads have no lights at all.


There is only one clear source of food in this range and it is 4th Street Farms. Here families can access healthy foods as they need. This food source alone, is not enough for the people living in this area. There is a Kroger grocery store located a few blocks West, but it is a 10 minute walk, and an even longer bus commute, at 11 minutes. A 10 minute walk may not seem too long, but when you are carrying groceries, it makes it difficult to get all the items you need, especially heavy ones such as milk. These several blocks would qualify as a food desert. Residents have access to a few healthy options, but realistically there is not a food source that can supply an acceptable selection, as well as, efficient means to travel there.

From a planning perspective, in order to improve the foodways of the neighborhood, a small corner store at the South-West corner of North 4th and East 8th avenue would be beneficial because it can supply food basics such as bread, milk, eggs, cheese, etc. This would help because then residents won’t have to go to Kroger just for a couple items, instead they can just quickly drop by and get what they need.   crpblog4

Other options to improve the access to food for residents is the enhancement of existing bus systems, to have more efficient routes to and from the Kroger nearby. This way people pick up all the groceries they’ll need, without worrying about carrying it back home.


The development of a new food source, and transportation to an existing source would improve the lives of residents of the neighborhood and help diminish the food desert.

New Kids on the Block: How to Think Like a Planner

New Kids on the Block

                  The first property we looked at on Neil Avenue (2207-209), was a standard lot size of 40ft by 100ft, predominant in the area. The parking in the back of the house was planned well, since the house is on a busy street and a driveway wouldn’t be efficient or space savvy. The location of this house is beneficial due to the proximity to campus and the fact that the resident is most likely a student. However, it is right next to a bar, a large parking lot, and tall building under construction, so the surrounding area would be busy and loud at all times of the day. The grab-bag of residential, parking and commercial spaces makes the area feel unorganized and messy.

IMG_3242  IMG_3243

Personally, I can see the appeal of living here as a student since it is located so close to campus, however the construction, parking and bar are enough for me to see the other housing options somewhere else.

The houses on Norwich get progressively cleaner as you walk down the street away from Neil/Lane intersection. The lighting on the street could be better, since there are only lights on one side and spaced far apart. The setbacks, roads and sidewalks were all almost standard size and worked effectively.


128-134 Norwich Ave has a larger set back and footprint, since there is parking in the front of the building. This may be functional, but it doesn’t look good within regards to the rest of the Avenue.


The one-way streets in the area work well because it allows for more street parking, with narrower street


The parking around Williams Street and the Unnamed Alley is very efficient because you can fit a large number of vehicles in a small space, so it is very functional. Although, it is not ideal because you can easily get blocked in, and there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver cars around.


A good idea was the red brick wall near Northwood Avenue and Williams Street. This serves as a sound barrier by muffling the noise from passing cars. This is important since there are many residences with basement apartments and it can be loud with cars driving right past their windows. It also looks nice and gives the feeling that the university campus boundary is near.


The setbacks on Northwood are larger than the previous streets, approximately 30ft. This gives the feel of a nicer, more expensive street because the houses seem less dense.


The old building at 2244 Neil Avenue looks like it was originally used as a general store. They would sell groceries and some house items, and the outline that looks like it was once a garage, could’ve been used for deliveries.


Tommy’s Pizza on Lane is quite strange. The owner must care more about people picking up/taking out pizza then the dining experience. This can be inferred by the large parking lot that is used for visiting vehicles. They could’ve easily built a beautiful patio, but instead they paved it over. The lack of a sidewalk can be confusing to drivers and pedestrians as the boundaries are not clear.