I got some photos of the sketch site plan that Tribek Properties submitted to the Greensboro Zoning Commission earlier this week for the Lawndale / Cornwallis intersection (see my previous post on this topic.) Their proposal was to rezone a block, which is currently Residential Single Family (RS-7), to Conditional District -- Planned Unit Development -- Infill. The Zoning Commission's vote was a tie, so the plan
was automatically appealed may be appealed to City Council for a hearing and vote on December 18. (Update 11/17: A neighborhood informant tells me that Tribek now has formally appealed the decision.)
This case will give us a good idea of what kind of projects the newly-elected Council will likely approve or turn down.
The principal entrance to the parking lot is on Fairfield Avenue, which is now a residential street. A secondary entrance lets out onto Lawndale.
Edging the lot on Rosecrest and Fairfield are a series of 3-story condominiums, each with a front-facing 2-car garage on the ground floor:
The site plan shows no sidewalk on Cornwallis or Lawndale, a full sidewalk on Rosecrest, and a partial sidewalk on Fairfield. No pedestrian access to the Walgreens from the townhouses is shown, and the rear of the townhouses is divided from the Walgreen's by an 8-food masonry wall.
Pockets of green space are preserved between three of the townhouse buildings and on the corner of Rosecrest and Fairfield, where the designers have passed up the opportunity for a a signature corner entrance. (Compare the way the Hobbs building in Southside handled the corner, at left.)
A recent article in the Business Journal called this development "New Urbanist," and developer Bob Isner was quoted as calling it a "hybrid."
It is neither. The whole aim of New Urbanism is the integration of compatible uses with one another while creating a pleasant pedestrian environment and human-scaled public places -- sidewalks, pocket parks, small cafés and shops -- that promote personal interaction.
This project is just a lazy and obtuse mash-up of incompatible suburban buildings types: not only are the uses not integrated with each other -- they are segregated by the physical features the designers have proposed. The Walgreens will be sitting in its pool of asphalt like every other Walgreens you've ever seen. The proposed townhouses are just slightly squished-together Reedy Fork Ranch facades (see left) whose garage entrances will form a blank wall at the sidewalk level. The green spaces can provide no opportunities for interaction; they are just empty space.
This project is "New Urban" only to the extent that Frankenstein's Monster is a human being.
City planning staff think that this development will pose a grave danger to the integrity of the Kirkwood neighborhood, and they're right.
If the Council approves this, Katie bar the door, and older neighborhoods, organize yourselves! Because no one else will be looking out for your interests.