Restoring Residential Density

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by TheLastGentleman »

Honestly, I think we should be aiming for as high a density as possible. There are so many factors working to keep the city from becoming dense that any compromise would be setting us back

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grovester
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by grovester »

Exactly. It's not like we're going to go from near zero density to omfg density in one jump.

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Midtownkid
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by Midtownkid »

I want to see more density, but I want to see in the right places. We need strategic planning. I'd love to see more mid-rises built along major streets like Broadway, Main and Troost. There is a lot of infill that could be built in the loop and on empty lots in the neighborhoods adjacent. I wish the area between downtown loop and Paseo would be built up into an extension of downtown. (Imagine the skyline stretching twice as far!) The East Side neighborhoods are badly in need of low-density infill housing (think Beacon Hill).

I don't know if anyone would advocate for this, but what I don't want to see is additional density inside beautiful, park-like neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Sunset Hill and Roanoke. One thing that KC really has going for it is the contrast between the urban areas and the green, lush neighborhoods nearby. If we try to make the whole city like Manhattan we will lose something that is actually really attractive about our city.

I've brought a lot of different friends here, and one of the first things they notice is how pretty the neighborhoods are, how many historic buildings we have (surprising observation), and how quiet it is. Quiet in a good way. You can go to a bustling area if you want that kind of energy, but you can easily escape it, too. You don't have to constantly be surrounded by noise and people like you do in DC or NYC. KC can be a really good city of introverts. :lol:

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chaglang
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by chaglang »

Great that the out-of-towners love the bucolic environs of Midtown but as a resident, it's very hard to get a gallon of milk without a car. That's a problem.

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Midtownkid
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by Midtownkid »

chaglang wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:53 pm
Great that the out-of-towners love the bucolic environs of Midtown but as a resident, it's very hard to get a gallon of milk without a car. That's a problem.
It's not just out-of-towners. I think a lot of residents of Midtown love it too...its probably why they choose to live there.

Also, I thought my friends' opinions were relevant as they come from DC and Chicago...places with tons of density! It was nice to see what someone who is used to density thought. Density is not always a great thing.

Anyway, aside from East Side neighborhoods, you usually don't have to travel all that far to buy basics. As Troost and Main develop over the next decade I'm sure more corner stores and retailers will open. I don't think there is a need to build a new shopping complex in the middle of Volker or somewhere like that.

Where do you live?
Last edited by Midtownkid on Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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TrolliKC
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by TrolliKC »

chaglang wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:53 pm
Great that the out-of-towners love the bucolic environs of Midtown but as a resident, it's very hard to get a gallon of milk without a car. That's a problem.
Mr. Z's is real close to Roanoke. Hyde Park needs a Mr. Z's -

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Midtownkid
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by Midtownkid »

TrolliKC wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:29 pm
chaglang wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:53 pm
Great that the out-of-towners love the bucolic environs of Midtown but as a resident, it's very hard to get a gallon of milk without a car. That's a problem.
Mr. Z's is real close to Roanoke. Hyde Park needs a Mr. Z's -
Exactly. I grew up in Roanoke so maybe my perspective is skewed. It's like the perfect example of a low-density area adjacent amenities within walking distance.

I'm sure as Troost develops corner stores will come. Hopefully at the base of the new MAC development!

town cow
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

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Family Dollar has milk.

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chrizow
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by chrizow »

much of midtown remains dominated by single-family houses, so depending where your exact house or apt is, your experience of midtown could be very "walkable" or not at all.

we used to live in S. Hyde Park around 44th and Campbell. not exactly bustling and walkable to anything too exciting--but we could (and did) walk to walgreens, CVS, true value, and troost mart, which sell a pretty broad range of things. not as "romantic" as popping down to a gentrifying corner bodega in brooklyn or DC but it does the job. likewise, i think anyone walkable to a major street like main, broadway, troost, parts of 39th, linwood, etc. can take care of some basic needs on foot--it just may not be a terribly exciting and charming pedestrian experience. but frankly this is also pretty true in a lot of dense urban areas, esp. hoods that are not crazy expensive. a lot of "cool and hip" parts of brooklyn, Chi, DC, etc. are basically full of cheap cell phone stores, dollar stores, fast-food, etc., even if the built environment is more human-scaled.

we're in morningside now and (vaguely) walkable to quite a bit, though it feels like (and is) more streetcar-suburban than urban. I am all for increased residential density, esp. if it will beget more services and retail along major corridors....but i am pretty sure midtown is more than "dense" enough to support a lot of businesses. i am not sure what explains the depressed market for such businesses.

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FangKC
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by FangKC »

In the past these neighborhoods could support a lot of nearby businesses. That was when many houses had five or six people (or more) living in them. Almost 40 percent of all households (houses, apartments) in KCMO are now occupied by single people.

On my block, 13 of 29 houses have a single adult living in them. One woman lives alone in a 4-bedroom house. At least five houses are 3-bedrooms. The remaining seven houses are 2-bedrooms.

When the older neighborhoods were built, many people didn't yet own cars. The later-built neighborhoods were built when households might have only had one car. Nearby businesses were more necessary for that reason.

The local businesses that existed along major corridors like 31st, 39th, 63rd, Gregory, Main, Wornall, Broadway, Troost, Prospect, Truman Road and Independence Avenue didn't have to compete with big box retail stores, and now Internet shopping.

Some of KCMO's population loss after 1980 was not necessarily only people fleeing to the suburbs per se. People stopped having such large families.

Just recreating density levels seen in the 1940s is made even harder because of current demographics.

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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by flyingember »

Being willing to convert homes into multiple units would go a long way. That four bedroom would be perfect for that purpose.

Building front-back apartments on many empty lots would make them affordable relative to many options.

If a single 3BR home costs $215k, these units would each rent for about 60% that as 1BRs. If they can get the build cost to that level with affordability in mind new construction could rent around $1000-1200. That’s not super affordable but it helps put a cap on the neighborhood to keep cost down by providing more supply.

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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by alejandro46 »

No matter how big this so-called "affordable housing fund," it will not be enough.

I'd like to see the money be used to leverage private dollars combined with municipal power of eminent domain to spur low-density apartments into high density developments.

Not necessarily recommending eminent domain, but just noting that KC has many low rise, empty buildings and/or lots throughout our urban core.
For example, Plaza East Apartments and Townhomes on Cleaver and 71 and Parade Park (Nth of 18th and Vine) are sprawling low density apartment complexes that would be great spots for dense, low income/rent control units combined with market rate housing and retail.

Parade Park is a co-op and has had issues in the past (https://www.kansascity.com/news/busines ... 50322.html) so just talking hypothetically at this point. I know there is still a lot of potential density to unlock and housing demand is there, just have to find the right tools to meet the need.

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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by alejandro46 »

Kansas City eases parking requirements to spur affordable housing along transit lines

https://www.kansascity.com/news/politic ... 33619.html
The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve an ordinance easing parking requirements for apartment buildings where at least 20 percent of the units are affordable for residents making less than 70 percent of the area median income. That equates to rents under $850 per month.


The Housing Committee endorsed the measure last week as a part of the council’s effort to craft a comprehensive housing policy. A top priority are plans to encourage and subsidize affordable housing construction. They include a $75 million housing trust fund to create and preserve 5,000 affordable units over the next five years. The city has yet to identify a funding source for the proposal.

Under the ordinance passed Thursday, the city would only require just one parking spot per two apartments in projects that set aside affordable units. Parking, particularly structured parking, can be a huge cost for multi-family developers.

“The goal of the legislation really is to ensure that every transit corridor will have affordable housing built within any projects next to it,” said Councilman Quinton Lucas, 3rd District at-large, chair of the housing committee.


An earlier version of the ordinance called for density bonuses, which would allow extra units on a given lot as long as some are set aside as affordable.

Lucas said the city code didn’t allow a blanket “upzoning” without rezoning smaller individual parcels. He said he wanted to find another way to pursue the change.

Another major, more controversial, proposal would require that any project receiving tax incentives set aside at least 15 percent of units as affordable. That has been put off until May 9.


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normalthings
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by normalthings »

alejandro46 wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 10:06 am
Kansas City eases parking requirements to spur affordable housing along transit lines

https://www.kansascity.com/news/politic ... 33619.html
The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve an ordinance easing parking requirements for apartment buildings where at least 20 percent of the units are affordable for residents making less than 70 percent of the area median income. That equates to rents under $850 per month.


The Housing Committee endorsed the measure last week as a part of the council’s effort to craft a comprehensive housing policy. A top priority are plans to encourage and subsidize affordable housing construction. They include a $75 million housing trust fund to create and preserve 5,000 affordable units over the next five years. The city has yet to identify a funding source for the proposal.

Under the ordinance passed Thursday, the city would only require just one parking spot per two apartments in projects that set aside affordable units. Parking, particularly structured parking, can be a huge cost for multi-family developers.

“The goal of the legislation really is to ensure that every transit corridor will have affordable housing built within any projects next to it,” said Councilman Quinton Lucas, 3rd District at-large, chair of the housing committee.


An earlier version of the ordinance called for density bonuses, which would allow extra units on a given lot as long as some are set aside as affordable.

Lucas said the city code didn’t allow a blanket “upzoning” without rezoning smaller individual parcels. He said he wanted to find another way to pursue the change.

Another major, more controversial, proposal would require that any project receiving tax incentives set aside at least 15 percent of units as affordable. That has been put off until May 9.

Next stop Zero!

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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by flyingember »

It's a move in the right direction at the very least, and that's what we need to see more of around zoning.

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FangKC
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

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I saw this photo posted on my Instagram feed, and I thought it was illustrative for discussing density. If you look below at the photo, you have mostly 5-6-story buildings. The neighborhood is served by a two-lane street that is shared by both a streetcar, car traffic, and pedestrians. Not a parking lot in sight. However,some of the interiors of the blocks often do provide some parking on blocks that were constructed more recently. It's a lesson that you don't need 20-story towers to have a dense, busy city that is sustainable. Also note how wide the sidewalks are. The two sidewalks on both sides of the street take up as much room as the street itself.

Below: Prague

Image

Below: Paris buildings.

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You don't need the entire city to be this dense, but a sizeable core that produces enough revenue to pay for the less-dense single-family-house blocks with yards. You don't even have to a contiguous, dense section of the central city be this way. You can have dense nodes with less dense neighborhoods in between them.

If your were planning from scratch--say 1910 Kansas City, a planner would have created this type of core from the downtown to the Plaza from SW Trafficway to Troost. That would have been enough to create a sustainable core city that could pay for itself. In fact, at KC's highest population (500,000 in 1980), everyone could have fit within those boundaries at these density levels. Had that occurred, KC would likely have never lost its' streetcar network.

To create an image for you, this theoretical Kansas City would be similar to San Francisco in density and transit.

In our Metro, you could have these dense nodes spread about connected by streetcars and commuter rail: Downtown, Westport/Plaza, Independence Avenue/Benton Bldv., Independence Avenue/Van Brunt, Linwood from Troost to Bruce Watkins Drive, Bannister Road/Wornall, Bannister Road around Cerner's headquarters, downtown Raytown, North Kansas City, downtown Gladstone, North Oak/Barry Road, Zona Rosa, downtown Independence, Roeland Park, Merriam, Mission, downtown Overland Park, and downtown KCK and Rosedale around KU. An outlier node could be a core of 10 blocks by 10 blocks of dense 5-story buildings centered around a transit hub. In between these nodes, major artery streets with transit would have a block outward with similar-sized buildings, and then traditional single-family-home neighborhoods to provide variety of living options.

Below: Barcelona blocks.

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Image

Image

An example of a dense node near transit in the borough of Queens in New York City with less-dense blocks of single family homes nearby.

Image

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normalthings
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by normalthings »

I hope our new Mayor/Council will support the changes needed to push us in this direction.

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FangKC
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by FangKC »

I wish people running for city council, and newly-elected, had to take some mandatory courses explaining urban planning principles; what makes a sustainable financial tax base; how city blocks must pay for themselves, etc. They might not allow some of the low-density cul-de-sac hells that are being built in the Northland right now. Blocks that will never financially pay for their own infrastructure and services as they age. I predict at some point, the City will have to level all of it, and start over with a traditional grid. Or, abandon it to slowly become Gary, Indiana.

One only has to drive through Ruskin Heights to get a sense of the future of those Northland neighborhoods. I'm not picking on the Northland, similar ones are being built in south and southeast Kansas City.

I only hope that council members would try and learn this by reading on their own.

I never see the Mayor, or any council member talking about this on TV, or in public, or during campaigns. I have noticed on social media that our citizenry is woefully ignorant about these things. They think their $1,000 (or less) in home property taxes pays (or should pay) for everything they get from the City: police and fire protection, municipal courts, street maintenance, code enforcement, parks, museums, city employee salaries, benefits, and pensions, etc.

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normalthings
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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by normalthings »

You are essentially advocating for them to take a few StrongTowns lectures.

Strong Towns presented to local chambers and politicians last year. Mayor Alvey of KCK was a big fan. Surprisingly, Mayor James was not into it at all.

Justus is generally in line with a lot of what Strong Town proposes(neighborhood investment, complete streets, slowing traffic, transit options). Matt Staub is another candidate who is behind the same sort of proposals as StrongTowns.

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Re: Restoring Residential Density

Post by DaveKCMO »

normalthings wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:00 pm
Matt Staub is another candidate who is behind the same sort of proposals as StrongTowns.
Do you mean Eric Bunch? Staub isn't running this cycle.

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