Houses in the Alleys

In a series of recent posts I’ve written about the need for infill — or adding structures to under-used areas of existing neighborhoods. And as a landlocked city surrounded by neighbors that have room to sprawl, infill isn’t optional for Provo; either the city sucks it up and makes it happen, or it continues to have suburban density and languishes.

Luckily, there are a number of cities that provide examples of how to do infill beautifully, responsibly and successfully. Toronto is one of them.

In that Canadian city a study discovered that more than 6,000 new homes could be added without altering the streets-cape. And perhaps most relevantly to Provo, they take advantage of deep lots:

“It’s a gentler way of densifying the city without creating vertical buildings,” says designer Elaine Cecconi. “Plenty of lots in the city are about 200 feet deep, which is more than enough space.”

Unfortunately Toronto has hit some snags and the so-called “laneway homes” have become harder to build. But over in Vancouver a similar project continues. There, a relatively well-known laneway project is growing and diversifying, as evidenced by these diverse housing projections. That article is also useful for the image it includes of a laneway home; Provo could definitely use more houses like that replacing rundown places like this:
A parking lot in a residential neighborhood.

A parking lot in a residential neighborhood.

Further south, Washington D.C. is also working to update its zoning codes, though not without controversy. Case in point, this post from Greater Greater Washington shows a charming little home in an alley and points out that some people bafflingly fail to see the benefits of adding that kind of housing.

The point is that I’d rather have either of the houses pictured in those last two articles than the parking lot in the picture above. More importantly, Provo has acres and acres of effectively empty space to build on; it could effectively “sprawl” inward, adding just as much housing as surrounding municipalities.

The choice belongs to residents and city leaders. But it is a choice and an important one at that.

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1 Comment

Filed under building, construction, Development

One response to “Houses in the Alleys

  1. Pingback: Density Is Needed Everywhere In Provo | (pro(vo)cation)

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