Eyes on the street. It's a simple concept that animates a neighborhood and helps keep it safe. So when developers look to build with designs that will take occupants’ eyes off from the street, some civic groups are, at times, less likely to support a proposal that steers away from this urban ideal. Such is the case for developers looking to build three homes at 869-71 N. 5th St. with two-car garage-front parking. Members of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association zoning committee heard developers’ preliminary proposal at their January meeting and voted not to offer support just yet.
The three homes would be built fronting Myrtle, but there would be no eyes on that street, the NLNA minutes from the meeting noted. NLNA members also voiced concerns that there is too little space for the number of units, which would also require the demolition of an existing two-story brick-building. Considering the lot size of almost 3,400 sqft, we can certainly see how three homes could fit here.
This is a case of a stuffed turkey. Developers in Northern Liberties have cooked up almost every vacant lot in the neighborhood with the aim of capitalizing on the ripe opportunity for redevelopment that's flourished in Northern Liberties throughout the past five years. Take the redevelopment occurring at 5th & Poplar just up the block, where a warehouse was razed to make way for a couple dozen new townhomes.
And just next door, three new homes have been built in the last couple of years. So what will happen here? Will the developers reduce the number of homes from three to two? Will they find some way to increase the open space? Can they improve the “eyes on the street” factor? We imagine they’ll be coming back to NLNA soon, and when they do, we should have our answers.