Congress for New Urbanism

Congress for New Urbanism | Sustainable Investment GroupBy Alyson Laura
Sustainability Maven

Thirsty Third Thursdays (T3) is a local tradition for the Atlanta chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism, visit their website, here. This month, we met at Kronberg Wall Architect’s renovated church turned office in the Reynoldstown neighborhood. Principle, Eric Kronberg, entertained and empowered the audience to participate in what KWA calls, ‘Conscious Urban Placemaking.’

Kronberg answered a question and defined conscious design as responsible decision making. He is motivated by having to face the reality of his own designs everyday as they are in the neighborhoods he lives and works. When asked how to make the business case for conscious design, Kronberg replied that he doesn’t have trouble convincing clients of the value of new urbanism because he approaches every project as ‘win-win, or no deal.’

The presentation revolved mostly around the inverse relationship between parking capacity and transit availability. It’s a weird, but true phenomena called ‘induced demand.’ Atlanta’s situation is well explained in a recent essay published in Creative Loafing, read the article, here.

The average cost to construct a parking space in a deck in Atlanta ranges from $12,000 to $15,000 per space. Based on my calculation, we’ve spent at least $48 million since 2005 on parking along a two-mile stretch of the Beltline. The same stretch of the Eastside Trail cost $13.8 million. – Matthew Garbett.

The message is, if we want people to choose mass transit, cycling, and walking, then we need to stop building parking spaces. The problem is that many conscious architects like Eric Kronberg face, is that we can’t build less parking. The zoning code often requires grotesque quantities of parking based on decades-outdated zoning laws.

Most of the city’s zoning ordinance was written to satisfy usage patterns of the suburban excess. These perceived maximums, then became the legal minimums.

But there is a silver lining to the situation we find ourselves in. Just this year, the City of Atlanta hired, Tim Keane, the new Commissioner of Planning and Community Development. Visit his Twitter page here. He did great things for Charleston, and the Atlanta design community is embracing him with open arms.

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