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affordable housing, design standards, and open space


Hi all,

Here’s the situation: The city is currently working on a large development southeast of town that will, for better or worse, change the character of the town over the next few years no matter how its developed. The city wants to do it right and is currently considering the duel issues of design standards and affordable housing. The developer is making the usual noises about not wanting any kind of standards because the prices will get jacked up, but we are interested in really understanding the potential ramifications. I was wondering if anyone had examples or thoughts regarding design standards that applied to affordable housing districts (in this case, affordable housing simply means below the median housing price of 139,500 and isn’t anything too special).

Concurrently, the city is also really interested in promoting passive open space in the development and has written up some fairly confusing language regarding density bonuses in return for open space pres. I’ve got plenty of examples of how to do it right at the county level, but I was wondering about thoughts/examples regarding open space preservation at the city level (and keep in mind that much of this open space isn’t necessarily park dedications or playgrounds or anything that requires lots o’ water- we’re having a severe drought right now- think more along the lines of trails and sagebrush).



I doubt if you are looking for something so dense, but I would recommend a Bay Area architect who has successfully designed "affordable" housing that frankly transcends a lot of the market rate stuff: Michael Pyatok.


This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. This is where I'd like to work actually. Minnesota has several organizations that are dedicated to affordable housing that looks good and integrates with the rest of the community.

http://www.gmhf.com/ Greater Minnesota Housing Fund is probably your best bet to finding smartly designed and affordable homes. Specifically, look at the Building Better Neighborhoods approach they use.

http://www.mhponline.org/ also a good source
http://www.mhfa.state.mn.us/ and these guys too