Friday, May 10, 2013

After years of different concepts, ground finally broken at 6th and Garfield for row homes

Metropolitan Brokers and rootARCH started construction this week on the only vacant lots (4) left at the intersection of 6th Av N and Garfield Street in Salemtown. Exteriors look like they have taken their cues from some of the period infill around Salemtown and Germantown.

What's being built in 2013 at 6th and Garfield

I admit I am partial to the period look, but in several community meetings I have attended in the past few weeks I have heard grumbling about the sterile, geometric boxiness of more recent builds in Salemtown. I would think that a plan for a more traditional row house style would be welcomed by some of the folk unhappy with some of what's been offered recently. That said, HR@G strikes a good balance to the rectilinear "G spot" homes across Garfield. Moreover, it is unequivocally more attractive that the slapdash, Lego-like disappointment across 6th Av N (I still am not sure what it is called. "Sixth & Garfield"?).

Everything I've read about HR@G says it will have 8 units, which is denser than what was previously proposed as the "Salem Gardens" concept 6 years ago when duplexes were to be built on this pivotal neighborhood site:

Scaled back 2007 plan for duplexes at 6th and Garfield

I am not bothered by the greater density of the Historic Row plan as others might be for a couple of reasons. First, Salem Gardens was unmistakably duplexified in its appearance. The row houses give a little more diversity to a neighborhood where duplexes could dominate (on some streets they already do) without some creative building and zoning. Second, the Salem Gardens proposal emerged several years ago after Salemtown Neighbors fought and won rezoning for three of the SG properties further south of the Historic Row site redeveloped for detached single family homes. The Salem Gardens group originally proposed mixed use (which SNNA supported):

2006 mixed use concept for 6th and Garfield

Then the SG group pulled a u-turn and lobbied unsuccessfully to return to all duplexes. One of the detached SF homes for which SNNA won rezoning is already built and owned. Two more can be built if current property owners ever tear down some old triplexes.

So, I am not concerned about the greater density that current developers of the Historic Row at Garfield plan for 6th and Garfield. It is balanced, thanks to thoughtful and diligent planning, by zoning for 3 lower-density, detached homes to its south. We just need to stay vigilant that the lower density nearby is not rezoned to mirror the lots where HR@G is going up. "Diversity" remains the name of the Salemtown development game.

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