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the idea



Density Bump is an urban infill strategy that proposes to use the air rights over retail parking lots for new housing construction. The targeted areas have houses and apartments that are in high demand and very few opportunities for new housing.


The small islands of shopping in residential areas offer necessary services. The retail leases for these spots are in demand with few vacancies. The typical configuration is a one story building with stores facing the main street and with parking in front or just to the side The parking lot is visually disruptive to the historic streetfront. The 2 and 3 story residential buildings and the highly maintained attendant landscape are interrupted by asphalt surfaces, cars and the large unlandscaped area that is typical for parking lots.


Parking lots are a low intensity use, occasionally vacant and always single purpose. They are ugly, environmentally unfriendly and contribute little to the vibrant and populated street life of their respective neighborhoods. But, they are necessary for the stores in the neighborhood. Our ides is to maintain the parking, coexist and build over it to knit back the street edge.



Using the air rights for new construction would generate new revenue.  Most retail in built-up neighborhoods are mature uses. Currently the business owner can only increase his revenue stream by increasing rents. Building over the parking lot will give the owner a new option for generating income.


Building over parking is a far more sustainable option than most other new construction options.  New housing in built-up neighborhoods is hard to create. Vacant lots are rare. An air-rights strategy is an anti sprawl option for adding to existing urban locations.


The addition of new housing is a jobs generator in neighborhoods that now do not have a new housing option.  Housing construction jobs follow

builders to the suburbs. New jobs closer to the urban centers mean involve less travel.


Often the older retail businesses are built on important arterial streets with existing bus or trolley lines. By favoring locations that share a transportation connection it may be possible to build new housing without adding an equivalent amount of parking, but even if the transit location is unavailable, the existing retail center’s parking can be shared with the housing. At night both the stores and the parking lot are empty and closed. The residents of the new housing can park at night, take their cars to work and return at the end of the day sharing the space with the store that need the space from 9 to 5.




In an old neighborhood of a city or in the next ring of older suburban towns, the retail buildings are mostly smaller specialized shops and smaller outlets of larger chains. These older retail nodes are the prime candidates for a density bump strategy. In these neighborhoods the housing prices are stable or rising. The convenience of easy commuting and available services make the location popular.  All the land is built on so there are no new housing options except what we a proposing here.


Lawrence Linder ra LEED ap

Founder of densitybump

3 Air-rights houses (unit = 2 parking spaces, deck = 1 parking space)
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