By Barry Watkins, 8/11/14
This entry I’d like to get into some more detail about bringing walkability to Diamond Square and what kind of positive changes we can help to make there.
Defining a Walkable Village
Diamond Square is a great candidate for transformation into a walkable village. We ought to be doing this all over Brevard County, but Diamond Square is an especially good place to start. The residents have expressed their desire to see positive change in the area, including specifically a desire for increased walkability, and Diamond Square’s traditional town structure and the amount of open land it contains present some unique opportunities for positive change. To plan Diamond Square as a walkable village, I would recommend dividing the area into neighborhoods each sized to be about a 5-minute walk from edge to center. Here I’ve defined 5 walkable neighborhoods centered around the intersection of Fiske Blvd and 520.
Fun With SmartCode T-zones
We can then spice things up a little and add some variety in these neighborhoods using SmartCode transect zoning (T-zones). Applying multiple transect zones in each neighborhood helps to create diversity and interest, brings daily needs within walking distance of every resident, and focuses activity where the residents want it. In the Diamond Square area we can plan each neighborhood with some of each of transect zones T-3, T-4, and T-5. (The Northeast neighborhood, Neighborhood N-2, also has an Industrial zone labeled “I” in the map below). We can put some T-3 at the village edges, some T-5 at the village center, and most of the remainder can be zoned T-4. Each T-zone has its own character.
Assigning the right transect zones in the right places allows the different parts of the village to evolve toward their desired future condition as well as preserving the things that we don’t want to change. The maps I’m showing here are rough concepts. The precise locations of the transect lines as well as the definitions of each zone would be assigned and locally calibrated in such a way as to honor the existing conditions, preserve the historical character of each block and street within the neighborhood and allow for a natural evolution toward desired conditions.
T-3 Low-Intensity Zone
The T-3 zone would be designed as a low-intensity mostly residential zone. It would preserve detached single-family homes and allow future development in the T-3 area to evolve toward some bigger estate home lots with larger front yards. It would also allow some very restricted commercial uses, bed & breakfasts, and granny flats. T-3 streets can be redeveloped with very narrow lanes to slow vehicle speeds. As in all the T-zones parking would be required to be placed behind buildings so over time existing snout-houses with prominent garages in the front get replaced with homes with garages located in back yards. Architectural guidelines for Diamond Square would likely include incentives to build front porches, bay windows, and add interesting architectural details to buildings.
T-4 Medium-Intensity Mixed-Use
The T-4 zone, a medium-intensity mixed-use zone, would allow limited commercial and allow the evolution toward a healthy mix of small apartment buildings, townhomes, and single-family detached homes. The front yards would be a little smaller, buildings would be allowed to be built a little higher, maybe up to 3 stories. Offices could occupy any first floor space of any building, and retail uses could be allowed on the first floor on corner lot locations only. Sidewalks would be continuous, and front yards have a border made up of garden walls, or low decorative fences. Over time in the T-4 zones parking would be moved to the rear of the buildings accessed by rear lanes and alleys.
T-5 Main Street Mixed-Use
The village center in the concept plans above are formed by zoning the central area near Fiske and 520 as T-5, med-high intensity “main street” mixed-use. T-5 would allow buildings up to maybe 4-5 stories, allow any use on any story in any building, require new buildings to be attached and parking behind the buildings mostly in common lots. The space in front of buildings could be set at from 0’ to 12’ from the right-of-way. Sidewalks would be wide, and street trees regularly spaced and formal.
Zoning T-5 in the village center and T-3 at the edges would help us to direct activity where we want it. The T-5 village center would have a stronger commercial presence and higher densities. The commercial would create more activity on the street by attracting business patrons from the surrounding neighborhoods. The higher density residential would also contribute to the walking traffic on the street as well as providing built-in customers right around the corner from businesses.
All of the streets in a walkable Diamond Square village would be designed to evolve toward narrower travel lanes and be lined with lots of shade trees and continuous sidewalks. Some blocks in Diamond Square are too long to allow for good walking connections. In those cases we could augment the pedestrian network by adding walking cut-thrus and safe crossings mid-block.
Even the main thru-streets should be lined with trees and vehicle speeds slowed there to improve safety. 520 should evolve into a multi-modal avenue lined with shade trees with narrow vehicle lanes. It would have wide sidewalks and protected bike lanes. Buildings along the highway could be built closer to the street over time and parking accesses moved to alley-ways behind the buildings. This would create a continuous, safe, and comfortable pedestrian-friendly habitat in front of the buildings. Planning some parks, squares, plazas, and forecourts along 520 would transform the streetscape from a boring, unsafe, car-dominated place into a thriving, healthy, safe, pedestrian- and bicycle- friendly place!
Oh, Yeah, and Lots of Civic Spaces…
Along with all that, walkable places need to have ample civic spaces. We’ll talk about that next…
(To be continued…)
Do you agree with the idea of a walkable Diamond Square and the creation of more walkable places in Brevard? Join our Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/walkablebrevard. Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/walkablebrevard. Contact us for more information about what we’re doing and how YOU can be involved! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph: 321-355-2747