Monday, December 11, 2017

Make Mine Tall & Skinny

The coffin box development home of the present will be the one for the future as they are targeting the new Boomer nation called Millennials.  The cohort now living in the cell boxes, those single unit, community kitchens, and luxury apartments with free coffee, gyms and other amenities will be moving out and up into the new version of pre-fab, post fab, suburban boxes that came of age in the sixties and now the new urban dwelling,  the coffin boxes that now line two to a plot.

I wrote about the issues in Berkeley with regards to this as the new housing stock in areas short on supply but high on demand but also high on costs, these are the "answers" to affordable housing if by affordable you mean 600K on a 45K salary.

In Seattle that is not a problem as the average mean is 72/75K but in Nashville that means lots of debt for not so much house or anything that would be perk that compensates for overpaying for a home.  It is why we are about I believe is about 18-24 months before we hit the wall and the bubble bursts. 

The city sustained much of this growth with the built it they will come mentality.  And why? Post 2010 flood left a lot of cheap land to develop and the need was there.   However, because they are in desperate need for housing they built fast, furious and not very well.  At lot of the builds are over priced multi family units (condos and apartments) and the housing is almost all tall skinny's that are way way overpriced for income ratio.  And while much of it can be converted into rentals and the improvements in the housing need to lead to the improvements desperately needed in infrastructure.  Without that there is a major gap and not the subway kind.   The Transit Plan the Mayor proposes includes sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes to accommodate the transit/light rail plans which are the main focus of the initiative that likely comes to public vote next year.

I will vote yes knowing that little to any of it will happen while I still live here.  But with the funding in place perhaps even the most basic of transit services will be upgraded and that cannot be a bad thing.

When you see these tall skinny's be built the idea is square footage and limited maintenance as some are shared walls some are not but have a smaller footprint so they in turn are more "greener." I am not as convinced as density without greener pastures, as in green spaces, environmental accommodations such as solar and other options are not included then how green are they? Well light green.  Nashville is no position to do this as their urban density issues that are not just infrastructure have been met. That means a thriving Downtown core that has options for families that don't include Ubers or Cars to get to Museums, Art Activities, Theater and other options for kids that don't include honky tonks.  There is no retail for clothing, toys or any other needs families have so pack more people in a smaller area does nothing to improve quality of life.  So Millennials will move out and on.  And the reality is that the schools are better, another massive issue that Nashville refuses to deal with.

I do think they are targeting the wrong cohort. Boomers want to live in a city, they don't want yards or maintenance issues and they are less likely to be as obsessed with energy costs or being environmental compliant.  Sad to say but at least here my generation is lacking when it comes to even remote interest in recycling and composting.  In Seattle it was mandatory, here is it very optional with little resources dedicated to it.   I live in a human dumping ground frankly and again that is a reflection of education or lack thereof.  And the strange obsession with obstenence when it comes to "regulations" or "government interference."   Unless it is tied to a check then no. Remember red states are most reliant on Federal monies.  Hand outs are only those when given to those not white. But I like a flat white coffee now and then and lattes are clearly beige. Tastes change just look at Starbucks.



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

By Katherine Shaver
The Washington Post  December 9 at 5:34 PM

Cities and close-in suburbs looking to the future see a troubling trend: The millennials who rejuvenated their downtowns over the past decade are growing older and beginning to leave.

The oldest are hitting their mid-30s, with many starting to couple up and have children. Meanwhile, the sleek high-rise apartment buildings built for them as single young professionals are no longer practical or affordable as they seek to buy homes with more space and ­privacy.

“There’s been this huge wave of people in cities all over the country. Then they grow up. Then what?,” said Yolanda Cole, who owns a D.C. architectural firm and chairs ULI Washington, part of the Urban Land Institute, a research organization dedicated to responsible land use.

In an effort to retain these residents, some urban planners, developers and architects are reviving the kinds of homes that might be more familiar to millennials’ great-grandparents: duplexes, triplexes, bungalows, rowhouses with multiple units, and small buildings with four to six apartments or condos.

It’s the kind of housing that fell out of fashion after World War II, when young families and others fled cities for the houses, driveways and ample yards of the burgeoning suburbs. Planners and architects refer to it as the “missing middle.” It hits the middle in scale — larger than a typical detached single-family home but smaller than a mid- or high-rise — and typically serves people with middle-class incomes.

Daniel Parolek, an architect based in Berkeley, Calif., who coined the term in 2010, said the need for more missing middle housing is hardly limited to millennials. But as they grow older, he said, questions have been raised about how cities will continue to evolve if many of the generation are priced out once they want to put down roots.

“In particular with this generation, that played an important role in revitalizing cities,” Parolek said, “I think keeping them in cities is a major conversation.”

Washington residents Matthew Horn, 32, and his wife, Ana Bilbao Horn, 32, are struggling to stay in the city now that they want to buy. They love their neighborhood near Union Market in Northeast Washington, Matthew Horn said, but their one-bedroom apartment feels tight now that their 6-month-old daughter sleeps in a crib just off the living room.

Rowhouses with at least two bedrooms are either “extreme fixer-uppers” or out of their price range. Horn, an architect, said being able to buy a home in a safe neighborhood and with a small yard for his daughter feels impossible.

“Right now I’m having to come to terms with having to move out of the city,” he said. “I’m realizing the things I want to provide for her, we won’t be able to afford in D.C.”

In the District, about 35 percent o f the housing stock — mostly rowhouses and apartment buildings with two to four units — qualifies as missing middle, planners say. But many of the rowhouses have been carved up into smaller units, shrinking the supply of larger homes and sending prices soaring just as older millennials began seeking them out. Several years ago, in part to preserve larger homes for millennials trying to remain in D.C., the city began limiting when rowhouses could be divided into more than three units.

“We’re starting to research where and how we can encourage more of the missing middle,” said Art Rodgers, senior housing planner for the D.C. Office of Planning. “I think urban areas in general have to make tough choices between maximizing land capacity and maintaining this housing supply.”

Fred Selden, planning director for Fairfax County in the Northern Virginia suburbs, said he hasn’t seen an exodus of millennials from the county’s more urban areas. But he senses the uncertainty in his profession.

“You read the literature, and it’s all over the place,” Selden said. “We’re trying to figure out what will drive this younger generation. Will they follow the same patterns of their predecessors, or will they do something ­different?”

Cities from Des Moines to Atlanta to Nashville are turning to the missing middle as a way to try to hold on to millennials as they age. Rather than requiring or subsidizing it as they typically do to produce more low-income housing, local governments are trying to encourage developers to build more missing middle housing by removing barriers in zoning laws and building codes.

Some cities have rezoned their single-family neighborhoods to allow duplexes, triplexes and other multiunit structures that look like single-family homes from the outside, particularly in areas near transit lines. To allow more homes per lot, others are considering relaxing requirements on yard sizes and setbacks, the distance required between properties. Some are beginning to allow bungalows clustered around courtyards by changing long-standing requirements that front entrances be on a street.

“[Millennials] said ‘We don’t want big yards, but we don’t want to be in a big apartment building. We want a duplex or a triplex or townhouse,’ ” said Lee Jones, a city planner in Nashville, which has made similar changes. “They want something close to work and coffee shops, but they don’t want to take care of a yard.”

A big question is what sales prices will be considered “affordable” by for-profit builders, particularly in areas where land values have skyrocketed. Another potential hurdle: opposition from residents who say their neighborhoods and schools can’t absorb the additional traffic, parking and children that higher-density housing brings.

Of course, planners say, providing more missing middle housing in walkable neighborhoods near transit serves home buyers of all ages, including the other demographic giant of empty-nest baby boomers looking to downsize.

M. Leanne Lachman, a real estate consultant who conducted a 2015 study of “Millennials Inside the Beltway” for ULI Washington, said some of the angst is overblown. Only about one-third of millennials live in cities, she said, compared to the two-thirds in suburbs and rural areas.

For those who leave, she said, there are plenty of younger ones coming after them to keep urban areas feeling vital and vibrant.

“You always need more affordable housing in metropolitan areas,” Lachman said. “But I don’t think it’s required specifically for millennials.”

Even so, some planners say millennials’ sheer numbers — they recently surpassed baby boomers as the largest living American generation — will force developers to provide more of the missing middle.

“It’s a huge wave,” said Gil Kelley, planning director for Vancouver, B.C. “They’re demanding a place in the cities and housing that’s affordable to them.”

Vancouver, which ranks among the most expensive cities in North America, has begun to allow more duplexes and “stacked” townhouses with two units.

“I think it’s very significant that we’re understanding people want to live in the core of urban areas again,” Kelley said. “We’re reversing a 60- to 70-year trend of people moving out to suburbs . . . This is not just a fad for a decade. This is a multi-decade shift.”

Experts say it’s too early to know how many urban millennials will try to stay versus follow the well-worn path to the suburbs once they have school-age children. The ULI Washington study found nearly two-thirds of those 30 and older said they planned to continue living inside the ­Beltway in the next three years. But nearly half of that age group also didn’t have children and didn’t expect to in that time. The survey also found 58 percent of millennial renters believed they would need to move outside the Beltway to buy a home.

Developers say they are aware that, unlike their parents and grandparents, many millennials don’t want to move to the suburbs and “drive ’til you qualify.” They say the fact that many have shared group houses or lived in micro-units and other small apartments as young singles shows they’re willing to trade space to live near transit and in walking distance to restaurants, shopping, parks and other­ ­amenities.

Some developers are planning townhouse projects that will squeeze as many as twice the number of homes onto the same tracts of land as traditional developments, often by shrinking bedrooms, tucking parking underneath and providing shared patios rather than private yards. Doubling the number of homes, they say, can cut prices in half.

Planners in some urbanized suburbs say they, too, are exploring ways to provide more missing middle housing in walkable areas near transit — not only to hold on to millennials but to ensure more of those heading their way don’t add to traffic congestion.

Gwen Wright, planning director for Montgomery County, said more homes in the missing middle would serve as a transition needed between the high-rises of growing downtowns like Bethesda and surrounding neighborhoods of single-family houses. Home buyers of all ages need more options in a county where a starter home can command up to $900,000, she said.

“I think we can provide what millennials are looking for — being close to transit-oriented areas but having the same benefits of a single-family house, even if not in a traditional sense with the yard and picket fence,” Wright said. “My sense is millennials are looking for more than that half-acre. They’re looking for community and walkability. They’ve gotten used to those” in cities.




No comments:

Post a Comment