Saturday, October 25

Leaving room for families

Wendy Waters, at All About Cities, has some thoughtful comments about leaving room for families in urban redevelopment. The statistics show that most of the repopulation of cities has been done by young couples, singles, and empty-nesters. This lack of age and life diversity, as Joel Kotkin points out (over and over again), can be problematic for the future of cities. But Waters is more optomistic that families will eventually seek out this living choice, once some of the barriers to urban living are eased a little. The problem could then become the lack of living arrangements for these willing families. If we build all studios and two-bedrooms for current demand, how will we have the 3-bedroom townhouses and condos future demand may require.

Waters offers a creative solution:

"What if a building offered two bedroom suites with an attached small studio apartment of say 350 square feet. The studio would have its own entrance, like a back door, as well as a door connecting it to the main unit that could be locked. A couple or small family could live in the two bedroom unit and rent out the studio for a few years until enough mortgage is paid down or household income increases. Then, they could take back the suite and use it as a master bedroom."

A little flexibility is never a bad idea.


Eric Orozco said...

Another solution is to build urban residential around neighborhood schools and to group townhomes and urban single family units around shared kid-friendly lieu of backyard space. The development can market "development for kids" to families. We proposed this solution for a TOD recently as a space-conserving measure to "desuburbify" the things families typically look for in a home. Good examples of these strategies are being used in Denver's Stapleton community (

Daniel Nairn said...

Thanks for these ideas. I definitely want to explore them further. I'm coming to realize that this is such a crucial component to any lasting urban environment, and it gets relatively little attention.