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krazeeboi

Suburbia invades downtown

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This past Saturday, I got the chance to check out some of the progress at the Battery at Arsenal Hill. After checking it out, riding by the Courtyard at Arsenal Hill, and checking out the website of 900 Pulaski, the brownstones to be built on Pulaski, I've noticed something: new residential developments in the heart of the city that include single family residential are being built to suburban standards, and are getting approved. The Courtyard at Arsenal Hill is a cul-de-sac in downtown's most historic neighborhood. 900 Pulaski is going to be a gated community. And the Battery at Arsenal Hill, IMO, is just awful: the homes look out of place, and there is a wooden fence separating the homes from the streets. The homes are turned inward, turning their back on the streets. And the double posts with the names of the developments on them serving as entrances, for the Battery and the Courtyard, is about as suburban as you can get. Why are suburban developments like these being approved? What ever happened to just building houses, plain and simple--no new inside streets, houses facing existing streets, no paved over parking lots inside the development, etc.?

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Krazee, I felt like this thread was worth of being in the main forum :)

This is horrible news, but what can you do? All it does is show the poor policy of the Planning Commission and the lack of organization of the center city neighborhoods to fight something like this.

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It's a shame the planning commission doesn't see how Arsenal Hill's character in particular is being threatened by such developments. I mean what's so hard about developing residential projects properly within a context where the street grid is already in place? And why can't the commission see that that's how it should be done?

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I don't think Columbia is the only one facing this issue. I can't be 100% sure, but I'd say that Charleston is the only city in the state that would be either totally or mostly immune to this. I know of a few things in downtown Greenville that should have been done much differently including the Viola Street revitalization and a housing development on North Main (that is gated off, but is not in the residential portion of Main Street). These projects were envisioned and built years ago, but their impact is real today and will only be more prominent in the future. It is a problem. Fortunately, no such recent developments have been built in this fashion (Pendleton West, Mulberry at Pinckney). So, while the good developments outnumber the bad ones, the suburban-style projects are still a problem and will continue to pose problems for our urban areas.

I couldn't find any pics of the bad developments around Greenville, but here's a few shots of the current developments that are being built correctly for those who need a visual:

Pendleton West

Picture202-1.jpg

Mulberry at Pinckney

2355777862_d69429a3a4.jpg

2354945683_0ea45d791b.jpg

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^The last picture in particular actually reminds me of Rosewood Hills which is under construction down by Williams-Brice. The interesting thing here is that it (along with the Celia Saxon Homes near Benedict College) is a HOPE VI project being built by the Columbia Housing Authority. Imagine that: a government agency doing it right while private developers get it wrong.

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Speaking directly to the developments mentioned...

Courtyard, with its cul-de-sac and white PVC fence is horrible and has been for some time.

The Battery is a step up if you ask me. Yes, the idea of carving up the block does not fit the existing context, but the design of the homes -- while not completely pulled off with excellence -- is in keeping with the area, IMO. I also give them props for trying cluster housing, although I don't think they're selling. I agree though, that it could have been done better.

On the Pulaski development... Help me out... I couldn't find evidence that it's gated on the website. I have no problem with gated parking as long as the homes are designed to open on to the sidewalk in a proper urban way.

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Speaking directly to the developments mentioned...

Courtyard, with its cul-de-sac and white PVC fence is horrible and has been for some time.

The Battery is a step up if you ask me. Yes, the idea of carving up the block does not fit the existing context, but the design of the homes -- while not completely pulled off with excellence -- is in keeping with the area, IMO. I also give them props for trying cluster housing, although I don't think they're selling. I agree though, that it could have been done better.

On the Pulaski development... Help me out... I couldn't find evidence that it's gated on the website. I have no problem with gated parking as long as the homes are designed to open on to the sidewalk in a proper urban way.

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On the website of 900 Pulaski, it states that it will be a gated development. Looking at the site plan, though, it looks like there will be angled parking along Pulaski.

I suppose one reason why I think the Courtyard is a better development than the Battery is because the quality of the homes is higher, and the houses at the Battery visually clash with Rehoboth Church in terms of external building materials. However, some of the Courtyard houses have front garages, which is definitely a minus.

Waccamatt, I really don't think that the developers are trying to balance urbanity with marketability (if that's a word), as a project can be very urban and yet very marketable. I just think that they honestly don't know how to build a 100% quality urban development. And they can do so and still maximize their profits under the circumstances.

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Where's the Courtyard, that isn't ringing any bells.

I absolutely hate those rowhouses Gville posted? Are they selling? I was amazed that those rowhouses of Whaley sold, especially with the RR track running right behind them.

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The Courtyard is off Wayne Street between Taylor and Blanding near the Governor's mansion.

Whaley Row is another example of a suburban development that doesn't fit its context.

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I think its worth pointing out that Charleston has lots of cul-de-secs downtown. They are many street than ends in "Court." Thats because it used to be that streets were named based on the type of street that it was and what it was designed to do. "Court" has always implied a short, dead end street. This isn't always the case any more though you do still see it occasionally. I'm not sure to what extent Charleston allows these to be created anymore within downtown, but I also don't perceive there to be enough land to do this.

So, with that in mind, what is happening with the courtyard in Columbia is not bad in that its a cul-de-sac, but in that its purely suburban style housing. If it were appropriately dense housingwith the appropriate design for Arsenal Hill then it could possibly be acceptable.

On the website of 900 Pulaski, it states that it will be a gated development. Looking at the site plan, though, it looks like there will be angled parking along Pulaski.

I suppose one reason why I think the Courtyard is a better development than the Battery is because the quality of the homes is higher, and the houses at the Battery visually clash with Rehoboth Church in terms of external building materials. However, some of the Courtyard houses have front garages, which is definitely a minus.

Waccamatt, I really don't think that the developers are trying to balance urbanity with marketability (if that's a word), as a project can be very urban and yet very marketable. I just think that they honestly don't know how to build a 100% quality urban development. And they can do so and still maximize their profits under the circumstances.

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I went thru the Battery at Asenal Hill, and it was pretty horrible.

-Houses slammed too close together

-Hard to manuever because evrything is too close (and I drive a midsize car, not a Suburban or anything)

-Parking pads were unfinished and crumbling on the edges

-It looks like some gas lines are routed right in front of the parking pads. if this isn't a code violation, it definitely isn't safe.

I'm sure they're asking a pretty penny for these thigs.

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And the Battery at Arsenal Hill, IMO, is just awful: the homes look out of place, and there is a wooden fence separating the homes from the streets.

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