The “Neighborhood Commercial” designation residents approved focuses on three “nodes” along North Highland Avenue and limits new buildings to three stories, requires sidewalks, permits open-air dining, and encourages shared parking. It would also prohibit in-front commercial parking and require developers to provide project information to the group prior to seeking permits from the city.I think most of the zoning is good, but the three-story thing is short sighted. I think there are plenty of problems with The Mix - starting with it's name, and followed shortly thereafter with it's architecture - but how can you purport to be advocates of smart growth, pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, increased viability of transit, and then limit the density to three stories?
I don't think it is economically viable to develop anything on the numerous parking lots in the neighborhood without going higher than three stories. I could be wrong, but whatever you put there would have to be very expensive. Basically, I think the neighborhood is doing everything possible to keep N. Highland exactly the way it is. It is a bunch of NIMBYism dressed up as concern about historic preservation.
Which is a shame, because there are some great locations that could be developed/redeveloped to make the neighborhood more intimate, more pedestrian. Off the top of my head, I can think of the parking lot where The Mix is slated to go, redeveloping the CVS, those lame brick apartments/condos next to it, redeveloping the Hand in Hand lot that has parking in the front, or the lot on Amsterdam...
It's probably easy to discount my opinion - I'm an MBA student, worked for developers, want to continue in that line of work, etc. I'm the bad guy whose motives are easy to question. But I grew up in this neighborhood. It's been my home for 26 years. I probably know it better than most of the people around. I care about it as much or more than all the NIMBYs. I got into real estate because I saw how the urban environment affects our lives, and how smart growth and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods really can be a great positive force in our culture. Instead of trying to use public policy to shape growth, I decided to learn how to do it myself.
I realize that the only way for Atlanta to grow the way that we all want it to grow is to see greater density in areas like Virginia-Highlands. Why would five stories, tiered back (like The Mix is), with appropriate architecture, be so bad? I guess because I wasn't involved with this whole NC zoning thing, I don't have that much room to complain. The neighborhood voted 178-15 for this thing, I'm pretty sure my voice wouldn't have made a difference. Part of me wishes I had time in my life for this sort of thing - I just can't make it a priority right now. But hey, I'm a blogger, so basically the gig is to complain about stuff all day instead of doing anything, right?