A Different On Site Living Experience

How’s this for a different kind of on site living experience?

In the early to mid twentieth century, the majority of the city’s libraries had live-in superintendents. Like the superintendents who still live in many of the city’s residential buildings, these caretakers both worked and lived in the buildings for which they were responsible. This meant that for decades, behind the stacks, meals were cooked, baths and showers were taken, and bedtime stories were read. And yes, families living in the city’s libraries typically did have access to the stacks at night—an added bonus if they happened to need a new bedtime book after hours…

The family, who were joined by Rose Mary’s younger brother Terrence in 1945, lived in the library until Patrick Thornberry retired as the building’s superintendent in 1967. Their home was in what the library now refers to as the “closed stack” (a locked stack reserved for rare books). While the closed stack is currently sealed off to daylight to protect its rare contents, when the Thornberrys lived in the library, it was a light-filled and vibrant space. But the family was by no means confined to their apartment. They also enjoyed a penthouse-level garden and after hours, access to the library’s stacks and large reference rooms too.

 

The Ups and Downs of Tiny Apartments

Boing Boing has a post that pulls together several videos related to micro-apartment living. In the post they also reference San Francisco’s approval of 220 SF apartments back in 2012, which is one way to address the extreme shortage of housing faced by the city. Here’s one of the videos for your viewing pleasure:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/hJkBlqLJLWA]

Catering to Cyclists

A new trend in apartment development seems to be targeting the cycling crowd. From a story in the Wall Street Journal:

Seattle’s Velo building in Fremont is built right off the Burke-Gilman bike and recreation trail. Opening this weekend, the 171-unit building, like Vélo North Loop, takes its name from the French word for bicycle (the two buildings are unrelated). It offers a bike-maintenance area as well as a bike wash and storage, both in the garage and on the main level. Apartments will also have bike-storage niches.

Jim Atkins, chief operating officer and managing director of Mack Urban, Velo Fremont’s developer, says the building was built with wider hallways and doorways so residents can wheel their bikes to and from their units. Lobby fabrics and floor materials were chosen in part because they could withstand wear from bike tires. Even the artwork in the building has a cycling theme.

Rents in the building range from $1,600 for one-bedroom apartments to $2,495 for two-bedrooms. Mr. Atkins estimates that 85% of renters will be bringing bikes.

Nationally, commuting by bike grew by 62% between 2000 and 2013 in the U.S., according to the League of American Bicyclists. In 2002, there were seven bike-sharing programs world-wide offering subscription-based, short-term bike rentals, according to MetroBike, a bike-sharing consultancy. Today, there are 750…

In some cities, bike infrastructure is prompting real-estate development. Many of the newest luxury apartment and condo buildings in Minneapolis are rising along the city’s Midtown Greenway, a 5½-mile-long bike and pedestrian trail converted from an abandoned rail corridor. Soren Jensen, the executive director of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, says that historically, buildings in the area were constructed with main entrances facing vehicular roadways.

You might think that this doesn’t apply here in the Piedmont Triad, but Greensboro’s Greenway is already generating interest from developers – in fact one of the stops on this year’s PTAA Bus Tour was the Greenway at Fisher Park – and Winston-Salem has a greenway that is partially developed. In fact you’d be hard pressed to find a municipality that doesn’t have the development of walking/biking infrastructure as part of its comprehensive plan. Add to that the demographic trends we’re seeing and catering to the cycling community starts to make all kinds of sense.