There is an old adage that states that just because you have money doesn't mean you have good taste. In the case of the newest development in Peaceful Valley MetroSpokane feels the adage should be changed to: "Owning land in a hot neighborhood does not mean you should be a developer"
Before we do a walk-around of this new development, let's reflect on Peaceful Valley and what makes it so special:
- Small block sizes
- Narrow lots
- Historical context
- Pedestrian focused development
The most significant of these attributes is that the neighborhood was platted prior to the auto age, with the result being that Peaceful Valley is a very walkable neighborhood. Also substantial is the fact that the neighborhood maintains a huge intact inventory of lots sized 25'x100'. The scale and intimacy of the residential built environment in the neighborhood is a very unique and special asset when contrasted with our friends in the exclusive "Welshly Arms-Quail Covey-Fox Run Estates" subdivision.
Back to the new development. As Peaceful Valley has become a hot commodity, developers are busy snapping up vacant lots and tearing down older structures. This doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Some new, limited, well done larger development could add some nice contrast to the neighborhood. Until something good arrives, Peaceful Valley continues to get bland, thoughtless suburban-style development [with 60' frontages] in a neighborhood where it is least fitting. It is important to note that some developers have respected the scale and size of the existing homes, and have sought to create infill that fits.
This month's BLEMISH, as pictured below, is six units of snout-house spread between two separate buildings. A few things Metrospokane found horribly wrong include:
Improper scale-Even the worst designed homes try to offer the homeowner a view of something other than the garage. Not here. All one sees of this development is it's garage. It easily consumes 2/3s of the front elevation. The building's scale is far too big for the existing pattern in the neighborhood. Other homes in the area, new and old, are defined by a simple geometry and a predictable pattern that is often repeated, but this house virtually screams at you. Can you say "big sale on white metal roofing"?
Isolated design-Aside from not fitting the context of the neighborhood, this structure doesn't even begin to make the best use of the space provided on the six lots it occupies. The dominance of the garage, the starkness of the materials, and the ample supply of dead-space around the building means little interaction between residents and the rest of the neighborhood.
Cheap Materials and Zero Craftsmanship-Peaceful Valley is a very hot market. The past five years have seen much new development of some rather expensive homes. One would think that a developer building down there might consider materials and craftsmanship as key attributes to which buyers would pay some attention. Here though, we see vinyl siding torn to allow access for utility connections and $0.89 tin letters identifying which garage goes with which unit. It's hard to believe that for $150,000, this is some of the quality one gets. What potential homeowner would settle for this? Spokane, that sound you now hear is Kirtland Cutter spinning in his grave.