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mendelman

Washington, MI - an urbanizing hamlet Part 1 (broadband required)

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The following photos are of the hamlet of Washington, MI. It is one of the "urban" areas within the greater municipality of Washington Township, Mi. Washington part of the far northern suburbs within the Detroit Metro area. My mother-in-law lives in this township and I was surprised to see some "urban" developments happen within this old hamlet. For those uninitiated in Michigan's forms of local government, a townships can incorporate as a municipality and generally are the poster child for sprawl in much of Michigan.

The photos were taken last summer as I walked my dog through the hamlet to see some of the interesting developments occurring there.

Here are some aerials of the hamlet:

Washington_MI_aerial.jpg

(the old part of the hamlet runs along the main road in the center of the image)

Washington_MI_aerial_2.jpg

Let's start the walk:

We begin in a new development of small lot single family and attached rowhouses on the northern boundary of the hamlet.

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(yay...alleys, but do they need to be so wide?)

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(I think this is either a community building or a multi-family building)

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Rowhouses:

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That's looks nice, but I have a few criticisms.

I give this a development an 8/10.

POSITIVES:

I dig the placement of houses close to the street, and the garages behind.

I like the porches, stoops, and sidewalks.

The houses in the first few pics look the best IMO. I like the brick fronts with the limestone lintels. However, there's actually no historic architectural precedent that I can think of at which they are representing. They are stuck between east coast and great lakes styles. It might have been better if the fronts were entirely brick... and even better if the whole thing was brick. But overall, it's nice.

I'm glad the garages are hidden in an alley.

NEGATIVES

Yes, the alley is way too wide, but I really think these people wanted driveways. It appears there is 1 available street parking space per unit (between garages) that could have allowed the removal of the driveways. Or they could have turned the street into a narrow one way, which could have shaved off at least 10 feet.

Architecture still needs a bit of work as I said earlier.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

It's a move in the right direction, but in comparison with these types of developments elsewhere, we are still behind in terms of quality. But we're getting there!

Thanks for posting pics!

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To me, the alleys seem a bit wide as well. However I would assume that an important reason why this is so is to allow emergency vehicles, esp. fire trucks access.

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Hm... I dunno, Ian: sprawl is still sprawl, even under the guise of new urbanism. I'd rather see this as infill in the city. (I'd also love a delicious piece of cheesecake right now, but we can't get everything we want, right?)

On the bright side, at least we're not looking at photos of big McMansions on acre lots, but it's still greenfield.

Nice photo tour, mendelman.

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I'd like to echo Wolverine's postives, but add a negative.

Despite the slightly higher than usual density, the development still appears to lack a mix of uses (accessible retail) and as such probably isn't very walkable.

Still, like he said, a step in the right direction (if but a small one).

Happy 200 posts to me! :yahoo:

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I'm a little confused as to where this housing is relative to the main street, and if the housing is actually visible in those aerials? Considering that it's at the very edge of the urban area with no mass transit connection, I'd say this is less offensive. It would be even better to see Washington Township remain as rural as possible, and if building around the hamlet is the answer. Really, 20 Mile Road (M-59) really should have been the end of sprawl. Washington Township (pop. 19,000) is between 26 and 32 Mile Roads.

BTW, was I the only one who had to look up where this township was? lol I knew it was in Metro Detroit, but beyond that I had no idea where it was, though, come to find out, my guess of Macomb Township was right.

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^ No, you're not the only one. I knew where it was because I work with the region's maps a lot, but last night when I was watching the news about that missing Washington Twp woman, I looked at my MDOT free map and noticed that the township wasn't even on the Detroit-centric map on the back...because it's too far north.

It's further up than Macomb Twp, and in Macomb, they've built their government center/town center in the middle of nowhere, separate from any development, with the intent that it will catch up eventually. So, completely and entirely backwards and anti-community building.

Anyway, though this TYPE of development is encouraged, the way it is placed as a burden on the rest of the region is not. When will these homes be foreclosed upon? Because we all know, the people who live in them...their jobs are not in Washington Twp.

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I'm a little confused as to where this housing is relative to the main street, and if the housing is actually visible in those aerials?

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7292006_009.jpg

The spacing is too far apart, and the tall, slender design of these units make it even more apparent.

The dimensions of these units are more appropriate to the spacing.

7292006_017.jpg

I'm sure large trees dispersed throughout the neighborhood will eventually make it look nicer.

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No, the aerials predate the small lot development. In the first aerial, the development is where the large rectangluar brown field at the top center. It is at 27 Mile Rd and Van Dyke (more like 27 and M-53). Washington Twp. in is Macomb County.

As for staying rural, there was little chance of that happening during the development fever of the past decade. It's strange, but north Metro Detroiters like to move every 10 years and they just keep moving north as the rate of 5-10 Mile Roads each time. So the march of development north is constant.

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