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Article - Cities turn to ‘missing middle’ housing to keep older millennials from leaving

DVD

Cyburbian
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13,754
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39
My city is talking about it, just not doing anything. Plus the developers here don't really want to build that way. They make more on single-family. According to them. I would think you could make more on duplexes by selling two homes for the price of building one, but what do I know.
 

rickster

Cyburbian
Messages
26
Points
2
Even if people were to build duplexes and townhouses, millennials are still priced out in my city, unless they want to live in high crime areas. And then you move to the high crime areas, and you're starting gentrification. Fun for everyone.

My city passed an ordinance a little over 10 years ago, to allow for small lot subdivisions. As an example, you have a 50'x100' lot, and can build ~5 single family homes on it. Some of the designs were respectable, they were built on a human scale, and won awards,. However the homes on some of these projects went for seven figures...
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
8
Even if people were to build duplexes and townhouses, millennials are still priced out in my city, unless they want to live in high crime areas. And then you move to the high crime areas, and you're starting gentrification. Fun for everyone.
Gentrification gets a bad-rap - it's basically the social ramifications of people investing in their (new) community and the real estate market adjusting accordingly. Yep, it helps home owners and creates economic barriers for those trying to get into that market. But think of it the other way: are you saying owners that renovate their homes shouldn't be rewarded accordingly - i.e. they sink 50k into their house and spend hours and hours on the weekends fixing their property and they don't get a return on their investment. If so, then what's the (financial) point of renovating your home??? I agree that the free market is messed-up, especially when it comes to real estate, but don't throw the term gentrification around lightly because it has a lot of stigma for doing what responsible neighbors do: cleaning up/improving their property.

Full disclosure: I'm an elder millennial that was priced out of 'established' neighborhoods and had to buy in a low-rent area, and then spent the last 5 years remodeling his house with a lot of blood sweat and tears.

And yes, there was a serious lack of the middle-housing mentioned in my city when I went to buy a house (would have loved a townhouse near the river!). Now, that housing type is very much on the rise in my area, but realistically as we (older) millennials get closer to 40, living in a townhouse is NOT appealing. Plus, developers seem to be counting on attracting young (dumb) buyers - why would anyone spend double for a townhouse (with HOA fees) when they could have a bigger place for much less? Because they think millennials are all style and no substance... and I'm telling you right now that the oregon trail generation sees right through that BS.
 
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WinningDayz

Member
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21
Points
2
Our current official plan is focused on densification in established areas, and much of that is meant to come from missing middle housing. The problem is our zoning bylaw is out of date, and we have secondary plans that only allow for R-1, so you end up with constant spot rezonings that annoy the public. The other issue is that people are seeing the price tags on rowhouses and are saying that these infills are 'gentrifying' their neighbourhoods. It's frustrating because the term is being co-opted by middle class homeowners that just don't like the look of infill. Housing didn't become unaffordable because of the new housing, it became unaffordable because no new housing was being built.

I think many of the issues will change as we slowly update our policy, but there's definitely more education that can happen. Our current rules allow new R-1s to be as big as duplexes or fourplexes, so hey, we might as well get a few more families in there rather than have them out in the exurbs.
 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
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215
Points
9
Here in Baltimore, most of the zoning designations already allow for two or three or more different types of housing (single-family, duplex, rowhome, at least three or four designations allowing various levels of apartment development) with a lot of repetition in the language from one designation to the next. The differences between them seem mostly to be subtle gradations in density and in what kind/amount of business (if any) is allowed, and comparing the descriptions to the zoning map most of our zoning designations look more like approximate descriptions of what is already there, with some allowance for modest new development, like the nicely done spot-infill that has popped up here and there along the nearest major avenue to me. Only a few zoning designations seem to allow for substantial new development/density, and these are mostly located downtown, around subway & light rail stations, in some already gentrified areas that still have some developeable properties, and in some rough or near-empty neighborhoods already in the cross hairs of developers or "blight-fighters" (or communities desperate for, and frankly deserving of, a grocery store and other nice and necessary things).

Link: Transform Baltimore zoning code, from 2018

What do y'all think of Minneapolis' decision last year to abolish single-family-only zoning citywide? That seems to dovetail pretty exactly with this topic.
 
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