by Patty Buchanan
What do you get when you add 18 residential units, 18 parking spaces, mature existing trees, a community garden, 18-foot building set-backs, three frontages, a network of site walkways and private patios? I bet you wouldn’t guess that you get a fully accessible landscape with a network of pervious pavements, native sustainable plantings, a site fully mitigated by a system of low impact development/green infrastructure techniques, in addition to all the usual requirements for above- and under-ground infrastructure, including water, sewer, storm, electrical, and pedestrian and street lighting. Oh, yes, and affordable housing for 18 families.
This site is owned by Renton Housing Authority who believes that the environment, in addition to the housing they provide to their residents, is just as important. So, when we were presented with such a small site--it’s only 0.83 acres (36,500 sf)--that needed to serve so many needs, we knew that every square-foot would need to be accounted for and provide multiple services. This is where many of our low impact development and green infrastructure approaches really shine. For example, in order to control the amount of impervious surface on site, we designed all of our site walkways and parking lots to be pervious concrete, serving to provide accessibility throughout the site and helping to control stormwater by allowing stormwater to pass through and infiltrate into the native soils while also reducing the impervious surfaces total area.
RHA’s Kirkland Avenue Townhomes (KAT) is the beginning of a major housing replacement and neighborhood redevelopment effort between RHA and the City of Renton's Sunset neighborhood. The new residents are the first to be relocated out of their previous units (only a few blocks away) where demolition of old buildings are already underway. KAT represents a unique partnership between RHA and the City where the green infrastructure techniques used for the site and right-of-way were allowed to cross the public-private boundary so that codes and goals could be met for all parties. SvR (civil and landscape architects for KAT) worked closely with RHA and City staff to demonstrate that by using the network of green and low impact development techniques across the site and in the planter strip of the right-of-way, stormwater from the site and the streets would be fully mitigated for water quality and flow control.
KAT demonstrates how the integration of and the multipurpose nature of sustainable approaches to site design and stormwater manage can provide a means for fitting more into a small site. KAT represents a win for all stakeholders, but especially for the families that live there and will benefit from high quality affordable housing set in a fully sustainable, beautifully landscaped environment.