No Ground-Floor Garages ... Except This One

Despite advocating for an end to ground-floor garages, a neighborhood group in Philadelphia is now asking for an exemption to the rule it wrote against them.

"[S]treet-front garages mess up the rhythms of the city's colonial grid. When a ground-floor room is replaced with a windowless garage door, it takes the human eye off the street. The accompanying driveway makes life more treacherous for pedestrians."

"On top of all that, front garages reduce the supply of parking available for everyone else, by transferring a parking space from the public realm of the street to the private enclave of the garage. It seems rather selfish, when damage could be minimized by locating the parking behind the houses or in clusters."

"Urban-design purists aren't the only ones who object to garage-fronted rowhouses. Last year, the Queen Village Neighbors Association voted to ban them when it created the city's first Neighborhood Conservation District. A response to the frenzied real estate boom, the review body was meant to give residents more say over what gets built in their midst. Mayor Nutter signed the district's design guidelines into law in July, just as the boom was flaming out."

"So, it was a little disconcerting to see the very people who wrote the rules standing before the Planning Commission last week, begging for an exemption that would allow developer Louis Zahner to install ground-floor garages in two rowhouses on the 500 block of Carpenter Street."

Full Story: Changing Skyline: Poor economy prompts a poor design decision

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