Huntersville Plan Book: Incentivizing Single Family Infill in Struggling Neighborhoods
Monday, July 17, 2017
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. EDT
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How do you incentivize investment in older, struggling neighborhoods, that is both compatible with existing architecture and maintains affordability? The Huntersville neighborhood in Norfolk, developed during the early half of the 1900’s, is a historic African American community of low and moderate income families, with homes typically built on narrow lots averaging 25 feet in width. The housing stock has suffered from neglect due to struggling economic and social conditions, paired with an emerging mindset that “narrow” homes were less desirable. The result was the loss of many of the older single family homes to demolition or conversion, leaving behind a scattered assortment of vacant lots. Little new construction has taken place due to lack of market demand and the challenges of designing homes that “fit” on these narrow lots.
The neighborhood and a member of City Council asked the City to develop a method to incentivize the development of compatible single family infill to both “fill in the holes” and increase homeownership. The solution was the development of a plan book—a complete set of housing plans in appropriate styles that would be made available, free of charge, to builders and potential homeowners to lower the cost and speed up the timeline for the development of new homes. The City hired Work Program Architects (WPA) to work with the community to develop these plans that could be built affordably on the narrow lots in Huntersville.
Every community has struggling neighborhoods where investment is lagging or nonexistent. Lowering the cost and shortening the timeline for new development in a targeted area is a tool that can be replicated in other communities. In this era of uncertain government funding, finding a way to get the private sector to invest in these areas is essential to sustaining development. The panel will review all the steps necessary to develop and implement a plan book, from the initial concept and ongoing public input, to the creation of a new zoning district, to finding partners to build the new homes.
Robert Tajan, AICP
Paula Shea, AICP
Eldon James, email@example.com