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Infill Development: Community Success Stories?

  • 1.  Infill Development: Community Success Stories?

    Posted 02-13-2020 08:29
    I am searching for examples of communities that have done particularly well guiding infill development in and outside of historic districts with design review. My intent is to identify potential speakers for a workshop to be held later this spring.

    Communities in the Midwest or Upper South would be of particular interest because of proximity.

    Main criteria:

    - design review guidelines that have been effective in guiding new construction

    - policies that have facilitated infill construction, especially for small developers

    - examples where neighborhoods and citizens have become supportive of infill development and less apt to resort to NIMBYism

    - examples where increased density is recognized as beneficial, not a blanket threat to historic neighborhoods, community character, and quality of life

    I realize this may be a tough order, but I’m interested to hear what forum members will suggest. For the sake of background information, Lexington, Kentucky, is struggling with significant growth pressures. We are looking for examples of communities that have made infill construction part of the strategy for increasing density while insisting that it be appropriate in scale, design, and use, in and outside of designated historic districts (local and National Register).

    Daniel Vivian
    Department of Historic Preservation
    University of Kentucky
    Lexington, KY 40506
    (859) 323-6392

  • 2.  RE: Infill Development: Community Success Stories?

    Posted 02-14-2020 09:50
    In addition to local historic districts, Knoxville has infill design districts in older neighborhoods. Here's a link to information and a planning staff contact:

    Kim Trent
    Preservation Strategies
    Knoxville TN

  • 3.  RE: Infill Development: Community Success Stories?

    Posted 02-20-2020 23:13

    When it comes to residential infill, we have guidelines that are pretty similar to what Kim posted. When they're used, they're quite helpful. But since they're only guidelines, most folks don't bother to use them.

    For commercial infill, our code is more robust. In addition to having standards in our downtown historic district (, we also have a section in the land use code that guides how infill projects can be sensitively added throughout the entire city (not just downtown) -- anywhere there is a historic (landmarked or not) resource within 200 feet of the development site. (This link should take you directly to the right part of the code. But just in case it doesn't, look for 3.4.7 - Historic and Cultural Resources.)

    We just updated this code a little less than a year ago to make it a more flexible and transparent/predictable. But there's a project from before the code change (that I think could still have happened exactly the same way with the current code) that I think is a good example of sensitive density in a historic area and near a historic district. If you do a Google search for the Elizabeth Hotel in Fort Collins, that's the building (which I think is 5 stories tall, if  I remember correctly). And if you "travel" with Google streetview to the west (down Walnut), you'll "enter" our Downtown Historic District. The sensitivity of stepbacks and materials, in particular, really helped with this project. And most of the massing was pushed to the alley and to the east (away from the historic district). 

    For the hotel, though, it really helped that the person behind the project was willing to put in the money it took to make a well designed building. We've had another project come through recently with the exact same architect, but the folks that were paying for the building wanted to maximize their profits and didn't care as much about design. The building is currently under construction, so we have yet to see how the end product will turn out. But they barely squeaked by with a positive recommendation from the historic commission. All of this to say that sometimes it's not the code that makes the difference but the person/people behind the project. 

    Meg Dunn
    Fort Collins CO