It is an overwhelmingly positive thing for cities when you can somehow figure out how to turn a site like this (which looks to have been a single-family home):
Into 13 homes and new ground-floor retail that looks like this (non-Google street view images can be found here):
This particular example is at 752 High Street in Thornbury, which is an inner suburb of Melbourne. Designed by Gardiner Architects, the build has 4 floors of residential, a 5th floor rooftop amenity, and a single elevator with a single wraparound staircase. It was also constructed out of cross-laminated timber.
For more about that process, here’s a short video:
If you watch the video, you’ll hear the architect talk about how his firm had been working on this project for about 8 or 9 years. I have no idea the backstory and I’m not about to speculate, but clearly 8-9 years is far too long for only 13 new homes. And the reality is that we often don’t make it easy to build this kind of infill housing.
Broadly speaking, if you’re trying to encourage this scale of housing, I think at a minimum you want to look at 3 things: (1) the planning permissions need to be flexible and as-of-right, (2) you need to look at the local building codes to see if there are any obstacles in place that don’t necessarily make sense for this typology, and (3) you want to look at the impact fees being levied.
It’s hard not to imagine our cities being better off having more apartments like High Street.