Thursday, December 27, 2007

Judgment Against the Family-Friendliness of 6th & Hume Design

2cents has 2 cents for the suggestion that families can live in some of the attached townhouses being labeled as "multi-family" in Salemtown:
What I find interesting/odd is that the design calls for 2nd and 3rd bedrooms on the ground floor, main living in the middle, and the master bedroom up on top, with the terrace. I would think that if you have children, you wouldn't want them on the ground floor. Fear of break-ins. And to have to lug groceries and the like up to the middle floor... also less than ideal.
We really do need to convince planners and developers to stop naming empty-nest-oriented homes in ways that mislead families into thinking that practically they could live there. If you had kids would you move into a townhouse that puts you two floors above their ground floor bedroom and feel secure in that decision? Or like me would you choose that criminals have to go through you and your parental instincts before getting to your children?

Or let's just be honest and all admit that these housing designs are marketed to a specific clientele that excludes the possibility of families with children.


  1. What may be uncomfortable or non-family friendly to you, could very easily be a fantastic place for someone else with children. Yes, your average family may not work in these homes. But most urban families are not your average family. I have plenty of friends who live in urban lofts and townhomes with there children, and they love it. I understand your frustration, and I agree that the developers are using this phrase only for marketing. But you would be surprised how many young couples with children really like the empty-nester living. Small spaces can be amazing places to live in if built properly. Multi-level dwellings are not as annoying as many would think (you get used to the exercise). New York city and most of europe are family friendly and yet, they have anything but your average family style home. I personally think we could learn a lot from them; space is not everything for children. As long as you have community, good sidewalks and a park, kids can live anywhere:)

  2. Kids on the ground floor and parents on the 3rd floor is more than just uncomfortable or a matter of taste, it is unsafe for the kids. I'd like to see current examples of this set-up in the city in order to believe that it is possible. Let's not confuse a concept with our kids.

    And I've asked at least one townhouse resident here in S-town if his place would be suitable for a family and he told me that it could not without some major redesign, including converting the garage into a bedroom and laundry room into another bathroom. So, what happens to the family laundry? Do they just stroll down to the laundrymat at the chartreuse beer store on 7th & Garfield and wait in line to do their laundry? (If you've ever had a kid up all night with a stomach bug, you know that access to at least one washing machine is not simply a luxury, unless you have the luxury of unlimited supplies of linens, clothes and towels).

    So, some attached townhouses might be great for kids. But there are none in Salemtown that I know of and the way things are going, there may never be. In the meantime, we are going to lose more families and chances for good, close public schools to attract other families the more duplexes and the less detached homes get built. BTW, as far as I know, no families have moved into any of the new attached townhouse builds. Do you know of any? I talked with a divorced developer with a daughter who thought about moving into Schone Ansicht, but once he saw it he knew it wasn't even feasible for the two of them.

    I still don't think it is too much for the sake of Salemtown to ask for thoughtful planning and balance in density rather than relying on the cookie-cutter approach of many developers. The Salem Gardens development is an example of good balance (1 detached SFH and 6 attached townhouses), but it took the community fighting to scrape up that much balance.

  3. I really do see where you are coming from, but I can't fully agree. Again, it is about perspective and how you live your life. Ben lived a good portion of his childhood in a townhome almost identical to the Schone Ansicht in Holland and Germany. He loved it and so did his parents. I grew up in a 900 sq. ft. bungalow with a family of five, and it was a blast. There are plenty of spaces in the Werthan Lofts that are family friendly; you just have to think outside the average living box. Just because the lofts are one or two bedrooms, it does not mean its not enough room for children. Abundant space is over- rated; functionality should be of higher value. I have been studying families living in small spaces for the past two years and it is quite remarkable what you can do with so little. In fact, its become quite the trend to live under 1000 sq. feet (with or without children). Its not for everyone, but many do it and thoroughly enjoy it.

    As far as "thoughtful planning" in Salemtown, I couldn't agree more. We need balance, we need diversity and we need developers who are accountable. My only argument is with your idea of what isn't a family friendly home:)

  4. My main argument is that the townhouses being built in Salemtown are not designed to attract families, whether those families think outside of the box or not. The amenities that go into these designs are not suited to children, but to young and old "lifestyle" singles without children.

    The developers are the ones not willing to think outside the box, and I believe that scolding families who choose to live in conventional spaces that are more suited for children precisely because the housing market does not give them a choice is ignoring the fact that Salemtown developers lack the vision that you claim we need. If they built townhouses worthy of the name "multi-family," instead of stylish receptacles where kids have to live 2 floors down from their parents on a street entrance or where families have to lose their washing machine to make room for the kids, then I wouldn't be arguing.

    But what you envision, they have not and they will not build unless forced to. In the meantime, there are plenty of families who think outside the box. But even families who wouldn't live in a full-spread detached multi-story with a three-car garage in Brentwood and would choose higher density will settle for the closest thing they can get that doesn't compromise their children's futures. And with the limited choices they are given, who can blame them? It seems to me that you need to convince the developers of your views, not those families.