The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has featured TSW’s work in an article on live-work-shop projects and trends in Atlanta. It mentions the Downtown Woodstock project and the Vine City/Washington Park LCI Study Area which TSW is doing a plan update for.
Life within easy reach
More business owners, residents like having work, shops close by.
By C.W. Cameron
For the Journal-Constitution
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Living above the shop is becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice. Whether it’s to shorten a commute or to enjoy a walkable lifestyle with goods and services in easy reach, more and more home buyers are embracing the idea.
Communities are supporting the concept by providing zoning that allows mixed uses —- homes and retail in the same building —- and increased housing density —- no one-acre lots required here —- as an incentive to developers to provide housing stock.
Retailers are taking advantage of the opportunity to put themselves where foot traffic is a given and where their own commute may just be a walk downstairs. And home buyers who may not plan to work in one of the shops, are moving in to enjoy the enhanced street life.
Let’s meet three households with three very different ways of living above, and in, the shop.
House becomes a business
In 2006, Karcheik Sims-Alvardo was shopping for a home. She decided on the historic community of Washington Park just west of downtown Atlanta and found a house built in 2000 on land that had been cleared when the Ashby Street MARTA station was built. Five months later, she turned it into Tea Cakes Bed-and-Breakfast.
>From home to business: Sims-Alvardo was a Ph.D. student looking for additional ways to earn income. The bed-and-breakfast idea was the solution, and now it is one of the few black-owned bed-and-breakfast inns in the country.
It pays for itself: Sims-Alvardo reports that she’s living mortgage-free. The business covers all her expenses and every month she clears a profit. She says it’s one of the best economic decisions she ever made. And best of all, her daily commute is up and down the stairs.
Why it works: The house is just a mile west of the Georgia World Congress Center. She rents two bedrooms at $125 to $175 a night. “I wanted to do something to convince others to invest in businesses in our community and it’s worked to my benefit,” she said.
How it works: Sims-Alvardo says it’s like being on call eight hours a day —- four hours in the morning and four hours in the afternoon. In between, she works on her dissertation. “It is hard work,” she said, “but it doesn’t feel like hard work when you’re doing something you love. And I love entertaining people.”
Zoning: Because of the bed-and-breakfast’s proximity to the Ashby Street MARTA station, the house is in a city of Atlanta Special Public Interest zoning area and uses like this are allowed. “Several people have told me they’d like to do something similar,” says Sims-Alvardo, “but you can’t do it unless you’re zoned for it.”
Living above the shop
Bob Burkhardt and partner Jack Simonetta own PB&J Art Gallery in Atlanta’s Kirkwood Station. Built as a live/work community, the development has attracted a variety of shops, including a computer repair company, hair salon, jewelry and furniture shops and lots of restaurants.
In from the beginning: The two were showing their art at local festivals and conducting business out of their condo at Renaissance Park. They heard about Kirkwood Station and bought a live/work townhome before ground was broken, which meant they could work closely with the builder to get exactly what they wanted. “It was a little scary,” said Burkhardt, “but at the same time it was great fun to watch it literally being built.”
Opening a gallery: Burkhardt and Simonetta moved in two years ago this month and opened the gallery the following April. The gallery is on the first floor of the townhome and the space serves two purposes. Most of the time it’s gallery space, available for showing their own work and that of other artists. Sometimes it’s a two-car garage. The art stays on the walls whether the space is functioning as gallery or garage.
Consider the neighborhood: For anyone considering a live/work space, Burkhardt says be sure to pay attention to what’s around you. If your business depends on walk-by traffic, you want a mix of uses that attract that kind of customer. He enjoys being in Kirkwood because he finds it to be a very arts-supportive community and he’s heavily involved in the Kirkwood business owners and neighborhood associations.
At a glance: The gallery and storage occupy the lower level. The kitchen on the second floor provides a great work space for Burkhardt to conduct business and do some framing. There’s an open living/dining area, a powder room and balconies off the kitchen and living area. The top floor holds two bedrooms, two baths and a laundry room. Simonetta uses what would have been walk-in closet space off the second bedroom as his work area. “We use every inch of space in the house,” said Burkhardt.
Perfect neighborhood for shopper
Jean Hanson had a part-time job in Roswell and occasionally would take a shortcut through Woodstock on her way home to Jasper. About three years ago, she stopped to make a purchase on Woodstock’s Main Street and was told about a new shopping area going up nearby. An avid shopper, she was intrigued. She and husband Dan attended a community meeting and liked what they heard so much that in less than two months they signed a contract for a new home in the 60-acre redevelopment project called Woodstock Downtown. The Hansons’ building and other parts of Woodstock Downtown have recently been purchased by Southeast Capital Partners.
Moving to a condo: “I’m one of those people who when I see something I like, I stop looking. And Woodstock Downtown was it. The architecture was so appealing, and I was intrigued by the idea of living above the shops,” said Hanson. In addition, the community is less than five minutes from I-575, which makes it easy to get to other parts of Atlanta. Moving there from Jasper, the couple has gotten rid of one of their cars, and Jean has rejoined the tennis team in her old east Cobb neighborhood of Highland Pointe.
Their retail neighbors: Downstairs in the Hansons’ building are women’s clothing and accessory stores, a home decor shop and an art gallery. There are restaurants nearby, and Cookies by Design has recently come in and is catering to the human and canine neighbors with coffee and doggie biscuits.
Getting to know the shopkeepers: “I’ve gotten to know a lot of the shopkeepers both in our building and on Main Street. Everyone is so friendly and so glad that Hedgewood has built this community,” said Hanson.
At a glance: Woodstock Downtown offers single-family homes, townhomes and condos. The Hansons bought a two-bedroom, two-bath flat. They face east into the neighborhood so the view from their balcony is Dial Park, the neighborhood amphitheater and the homes of Woodstock Downtown. “We use the balcony and Eli, our black Lab, uses it. He surveys the neighborhood and barks at all the dogs and cats that go by,” said Hanson, laughing.