After acquiring property just three miles east of downtown Atlanta, Eric Kronberg, a principal at Kronberg Wall Architects, carefully considered how to create a development that addressed housing challenges and opportunities.
As an expert in zoning, planning and developing, Kronberg is a close observer of demographic and real estate trends. He identified several that would influence his project: there’s an increasing number of one- and two-person households, people are relying less on cars for transportation in metro areas, expensive land and construction costs are making ownership prohibitively expensive, and stagnant wages are compounding the affordability issue.
Kronberg’s solution was to create La France Walk, a walkable, car-optional and affordable “pocket community.”
Unfortunately, the La France Walk property was zoned only for single family housing, which meant Kronberg wouldn't be able to realize his vision without some adjustments.
Rezoning the Property
To address those larger trends, Kronberg knew the development would need a variety of building types, which required rezoning. To successfully rezone the property, there was one issue that loomed large — parking. In the current development paradigm, parking determines and limits how much a developer can build.
“Parking drives everything,” Kronberg said. “And either you let the parking control and ruin your project or you constrain it and you’re creative in how you provide space for cars.”
So, Kronberg eliminated a majority of garages from the development in favor of on-street parking, and driveways between homes that straddle property lines. That allowed him to work with city officials to rezone the property and open a range of unique building possibilities within the same development.
The result was that La France Walk could become the “pocket community” that Kronberg had intended.
• Instead of a handful of single-family houses, the development features 24 units spread across standalone houses, duplexes and duplexes with attached accessory units.
• The development’s proximity to a shopping district, grocery store and train station means the residents don’t have to rely on cars alone for transit (or at all).
• The variety of housing options makes the development accessible to residents from a range of economic backgrounds and life stages.
• The larger homes have “live-work spaces” spaces where a garage would have been. The spaces, which are equipped with a sink, toilet, and shower, can be used to save or generate income as a compliant home-occupancy type of business, a guest suite for an aging parent, or a home-sharing apartment.
Thoroughly Detailed Designs
Kronberg was equally deliberate with his designs for the individual buildings as he was with the overall layout. He placed an emphasis on how every home engages with the street.
The homes are as beautiful as they are resilient and can be enjoyed from every angle. All of the La France Walk buildings feature exteriors clad in James Hardie® siding and trim. The products, he said, work well with his firm’s mantra of using a really good, simple, straightforward product, but using it really well and in a creative way.
“We use a ton of Hardie [siding and trim], because it’s really the most cost-effective, durable material compared to all other options,” Kronberg said. “It’s really easy for us to work with it for design.”
Kronberg also designed the front porches to be large enough for residents to sit outside and interact with people on the tree-lined sidewalks. This is a community built for everyone.
So far, the project has met with success on two fronts. It has attracted plenty of demand among homeowners and the attention of industry organizations. The design earned the firm a Development of Excellence Award from the Atlanta Regional Commission and a Congress for New Urbanism Award.
See more details about the development, including individual units and photos, at lafrancewalk.com.