A Cincinnati Magazine Article Hitting Close to Home 2.0
Earlier this month Cincinnati Magazine posted a piece on their website titled, 'The Pros and Cons of Infill Real Estate Development: The growing trend of luxury infill developments is changing the face of the city’s hottest neighborhoods—whether they like it or not.' that referenced infill projects in several Cincinnati neighborhoods I am currently or looking to do developments in. The article on one hand acknowledges the demand for brand-new high-end homes among a neighborhood’s older abodes, but also points out community concerns about how these structures going up are often not consistent, especially stylistically, with what was up before and more significantly, putting stress on the existing infrastructure and changing the dynamic of the community itself by increasing density on sites above and beyond what was the originally intended use. So what works and what doesn't with regards to first suburb infill development? That is largely subjective, but below are a few of my design principles as a City of Cincinnati resident, Architect and Real Estate Developer, which I think lead to positive infill development for all parties involved:
- Sensible Density: Infill developments should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Destroying the character of a neighborhood and overburdening utilities by purchasing a property intended for a single home to parcel out and build 6 new homes on is not solving any problems, only creating them.
- Complimentary Scale: It is important to recognize that the reason people a flocking to areas with walkable neighborhood business districts is because they are at a comfortable human scale with buildings rarely exceeding four stories in height. New projects should strive to adhere to this and avoid dominating the landscape with towering structures and mega-blocks simply to satisfy a pro forma. Additionally, developers and design teams should make a conscious effort to embrace the street, which is often not the case with many new infill homes that have nothing but a big garage fronting the sidewalk.
- Timeless Aesthetics: It is a bad sign when you can look at a building and tell exactly when it was built. That is usually the sign of a builder taking shortcuts to save up front costs either in materials (i.e. brick and stone on the front and cheap vinyl siding everywhere else) or in design (using stock plans or non-licensed plan designers, which often results in an awkward out-of-place looking structures). Infill projects don't need to try and copy what is already in the neighborhood, but they should be sensitive to their surroundings in a way that enhances the qualities of the community that makes it a desirable place to build in the first place.