Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to Save Suburbia from Itself Part 2: Apartments Over Stores

In part 1 of this series we looked at small-lot single family homes. These homes are designed with two stories, integrated garages, and modest lawns to increase the density of a neighborhood, enhancing walkability, economizing on land and infrastructure, and providing more affordable housing.

In this part we'll look at the brilliant idea of putting apartments over stores. If you want people to drive less, put them near their destinations. I guarantee you the person in this apartment is not going to drive to the store on the ground floor. So why doesn't every strip mall in America include apartments as a standard feature?

Look at the photo. Is that too dense? Really? A two-story building? C'mon, that's what American small town main streets look like. Of course, you can take the idea further and add more stories in places where this is accepted by the community. In downtown LA there's a supermarket with 6 stories of apartments above it.

But I'm not trying to freak you out, suburbanite. I want you to run with this idea. If you want freedom from traffic, you have to free people from the need to drive for every little thing. An easy way to do that, while still respecting the character of the neighborhood, is to put apartments over stores.

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