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Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

  • 1.  Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Posted 12-13-2018 13:04
    Many of our cities are experiencing massive growth which creates housing availability and affordability issues. The concept of allowing more "missing middle housing" to increase density in general is great in my opinion as long as the new construction fits well in the existing neighborhood in mass, scale, and aesthetics without demolishing historic buildings or existing buildings that create the fabric of a historic neighborhood.

    Are others seeing zoning changes in their cities to allow "missing middle" housing and if so, are these changes complementing existing traditional neighborhoods or encouraging the demolition of existing single-family homes to build newer, (not as affordable as purported) multi-unit buildings. I love the concept however, it seems it's being setup to remove the existing building stock in order to build new, which honestly benefits developers more than the community. Today, new housing is barely affordable to folks within 80 to 130% of the area median income!

    How are you advocating the advantages and disadvantages with bringing this concept back into your communities? I'm somewhat in between.


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    April Johnson Forum Member
    Executive Director
    Preservation Durham
    Durham, NC
    919-682-3036
    april@preservationdurham.org
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  • 2.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Posted 12-14-2018 12:08
    Edited by Jeremy Woodoff 12-14-2018 12:08
    ​Minneapolis has just eliminated single-family zoning in all neighborhoods to encourage multi-family housing and more density. Not a word (in this NY Times article, at least) about preservation of architecturally significant buildings or neighborhoods: Minneapolis, Tackling Housing Crisis and Inequity, Votes to End Single-Family Zoning

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    Jeremy Woodoff
    Brooklyn NY
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  • 3.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Ambassador
    Posted 12-14-2018 18:42
    April, I am so glad you broached this topic because it is something that I have been interested in for a while now, especially in relation to historic tax credit projects. Although the NY Times article Jeremy cites may not mention it, preservation is included in Minneapolis 2040. The HPC was given several opportunities to review the plan and I, along with several of my fellow commissioners, provided extensive comments. I am looking forward to seeing how those were integrated into the final version of the plan, which I haven't had time to review in-depth. Although many Minneapolitans are rightfully concerned about demolitions (teardowns are an ongoing issue in many neighborhoods), the true impact of the plan depends on how it is implemented. Thus far, I'm cautiously optimistic for preservation, the missing middle, and a few of the other equity issues addressed in the plan. Only time will tell.

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    Barbara Howard
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 4.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    National Trust Advisor
    Posted 12-15-2018 11:47
    Can you point me more directly to the parts of the Minneapolis middle housing reforms is pro preservation and/or anti demolition

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    Richard Michaelson
    Inner City Properties
    Portland OR
    (503)274-1035
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  • 5.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Ambassador
    Posted 12-16-2018 17:52
    If we are to fight sprawl and reduce the use of cars by making creative forms of public and private transportation economically feasible, It seems to me that our cities and towns have to grow by increasing the population density of the original single-family developments that grew up around city centers.  Innovations like form-based codes, elimination of single-family zoning, reduced lot coverage and parking requirements, and expanded use of accessory buildings are pointing the way for this to happen without repeating the urban renewal mistakes of the past.  Whether there is political will to fight development pressure to follow the easy and profitable path of clearance and rebuilding is the big question.

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    Jim Sparks
    Glasgow KY
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  • 6.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Posted 12-17-2018 10:39
    I do not support infilling and densifying my community's few historic single family and single family - duplex neighborhoods surrounding our historic downtown.  This view is based on my experience in a small western community under intense growth pressures.  

    In the 40 years I've lived in Flagstaff the population has already more than doubled.  Sprawl already pushed far into new areas and the county over these 40 years.  The push now is to infill and redevelop our few historic neighborhoods platted with smaller lots.  When Flagstaff continues to grow where will all the people live once the historic areas are transformed from the historic context to modern and dense development?  We'll spread outward because there will be no where else to go.  But by then we will have lost our most valuable assets and look like everywhere else.  Too many rentals in the historic areas will degrade those precious neighborhoods.

    So, I offer the perspective that modern development (mass, bulk, scale, and density) should be in modern areas.  I advocate for an "Old Town" & "New Town" model.  I started a community land trust (www.townsiteclt.org) to preserve our historic neighborhoods full of small homes and to make them available to people who otherwise could never afford to own a home in Flagstaff, not to overlook that these are great historic homes in established neighborhoods.

    The traffic here is already so bad that speaking as a 50 year active cyclist who rarely uses a car I question the safety of asking inexperienced people to navigate cycling our crowded streets full of distracted drivers.  In my years here the vehicular traffic has increased many times more than the number of cyclists.  I love it when I share the lane with a cyclist but except for one corridor that situation is rare.  Meanwhile all the folks who live in the county continue to drive in and out of town whenever they want or need to do so.  

    I have opinions about all this because I am witnessing misguided planning decisions that eliminate our history and unique character as well as make our historic streets clogged and unsafe (where do emergency vehicles go or what if we need to evacuate?).  Infill and density may address a growing population but it may only be change, not progress.  I think progress looks like intelligently preserving historic character to protect the community, and to provide the associated economic benefits.  Old Town / New Town.

    We have a form-based code that encourages redevelopment--don't assume it will provide the outcome you desire.  

    Duffie

    --
    Do you know about 
    Flagstaff Townsite Historic Properties Community Land Trust
    ?
     Townsite CLT exists for "Promoting historic preservation and community investment with permanently affordable owner-occupied homes."  
    Join 
    Townsite CLT 
    and display your support
     
    https://www.townsiteclt.org  TCLT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.





  • 7.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Posted 12-17-2018 12:45
    Thank you all for sharing. I think we should stay away from arguments that appear elitist and exclusionary. That's my humble opinion. Preservationists already has this reputation that preservation is only for the wealthy, well-to-do, and white families. I happen to believe preservation is for all socio-economic groups. But these groups have to be able to articulate and advocate for keeping the look and feel of their communities. It's our job to assist in that. Right?

    At the end of the day, historic neighborhoods originally included "middle missing housing". I agree with Jim Sparks. The main issue is how do we remove single-family only zoning and bring back duplexes and quadruplexes  without sacrificing existing historic buildings.

    I wonder if there are local groups who are successfully making this point and working towards adding a component to maintain the historic fabric when infill development is proposed in historic districts.

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    April Johnson Forum Member
    Executive Director
    Preservation Durham
    Durham, NC
    919-682-3036
    april@preservationdurham.org
    april@preservationdurham.org
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  • 8.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    National Trust Advisor
    Posted 12-17-2018 13:28

    One thing that we are looking at is infill without demolition – appropriately adding to existing houses but not allowing the additional units if a house is torn down






  • 9.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Ambassador
    Posted 12-17-2018 15:51
    While I don't mean to argue against myself, I recognize that an enormous problem associated with increased density of neighborhoods in close proximity to the urban core is gentrification. I'm sure we've all seen and experienced it. In order to combat segregation resulting from discrimination replaced by  segregation based on income, I would advocate for strengthening and expanding the use and scope of the tenant-based rental assistance program to the point that low and middle income households could afford actual market-rate rent, not just artificially low fair market rent as now.

    Of course, a change that  significant, along with the will to enforce its implementation, would be dependent on political support on the local, state and federal level - not a realistic possibility.

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    Jim Sparks
    Glasgow KY
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  • 10.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Posted 12-18-2018 08:42

    Perhaps a solution is to establish firm design guidelines for infill that respects the integrity of an historic neighborhood while not necessarily trying to duplicate it.  Also look into CDBG funds for restoring historic properties in lower income communities to try and help stave off development and gentrification.

     

    Just some ideas...

     

    Harry Klinkhamer

    Historical Resources Manager

    City of Venice

    941-486-2490

    hklinkhamer@venicegov.com

     

    Venice Museum & Archives

    http://www.venicemuseum.org/

    City of Venice

    http://venicegov.com

     

    The value of history is, indeed, not scientific but moral:

    by liberalizing the mind, by deepening the sympathies,

    by fortifying the will, it enables us to control, not society,

    but ourselves - a much more important thing; it prepares

    us to live more humanely in the present and to meet rather

    than to foretell the future.

    -Carl Becker from Every Man His Own Historian

     






  • 11.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Ambassador
    Posted 12-18-2018 20:12
    A good point Harry.  Over my career, I have used CDBG, as well as HOME, LIHTC and various state-specific programs to help develop both single family and multifamily housing for low and moderate income households. Problem is, these programs are used for acquisition and construction activities, which, of course, are very costly, so the number of units that can be developed using them is limited. And with the federal deficit growing rapidly, funding for these programs is likely to be reduced. On the other hand, tenant-based rental assistance programs, like the well-known housing choice voucher program, have the potential to provide a much bigger bang for the buck by allowing access to market rate units built by private developers.

    It seems though, that the bigger question of the appropriateness of developing new housing for low and moderate income households in existing inner city single family residential neighborhoods is not settled.  I would like to hear the views of other forum participants.

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    Jim Sparks
    Glasgow KY
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  • 12.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Posted 12-18-2018 20:57
    Thank you all for your comments.

    I agree, allowing infill with guidelines that stay true to the original idea of "missing middle" as preached by Opticos Design is ideal. My goal is to help my community support the added density it needs while approaching it in a way the complements the existing neighborhood in design, mass, and scale. The problem is that in my city real estate investors and developers are already buying up properties and having their way with them. In local historic districts there is an up to 365 delay for demolitions...developers and investors who can afford the wait, do wait. :/

    I'd like to approach this issue without being an obstructionist always against change. Cities WILL change but convincing planners and civic leaders to add density it in a way the protects historic character is challenging.

    I like the CBDG idea. We've used it before to revitalize mill community, a working class neighborhood. It was called Project Revitalize East Durham (RED). However, projects like that tend to exacerbate gentrification when housing supply is already declining. Folks move in buy a cheap house, fix it up and wa la! The neighborhood is improving on an aesthetic point of view, but increasingly becoming more expensive to rent and own property. This is generally a good thing except working class folks are being priced out as landlords up the rent to capture market rate renters instead.

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    April Johnson Forum Member
    Executive Director
    Preservation Durham
    Durham, NC
    919-682-3036
    april@preservationdurham.org
    april@preservationdurham.org
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  • 13.  RE: Missing Middle Housing & Its Potential Effects on Traditional N'hoods

    Ambassador
    Posted 12-28-2018 09:07
    Richard, sorry for the delay in responding. Minneapolis 2040 has several proposed policies that could promote preservation in middle housing, depending on how they are implemented. Be sure to look at Policies 47: Housing Quality, 60: Intrinsic Value of Properties, and 93: Stewarding Historic Properties, among others.

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    Barbara Howard
    Minneapolis MN
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