Decatur holding open house for Cottage Court project

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 2, 2016
Decatur City Hall.

Decatur City Hall.

The city of Decatur is developing a Cottage Court style of single family homes and is inviting the public to review its plans.

In December, the City Commission signed an agreement with the city’s Downtown Development Authority to develop a pilot project at 230 Commerce Drive.

The Cottage Court concept is a smaller style of single family home that shares a common green space. The city hopes these smaller homes will provide the city with more affordable housing. Cottage Courts have been allowed in the city since Decatur adopted its Unified Development Ordinance in 2014, a massive overhaul of the city’s zoning regulations. A press release notes, “local builders have been reluctant to veer from the dependable single family homes they’re accustomed to.”

The city says it is developing the pilot project “in response to extensive resident requests for action on housing affordability.” City leaders hope the pilot project will show builders there is a demand for this style of housing.

“For three days in early May, city staff, assisted by planner/architect Bruce Tolar, will work together with surrounding neighbors to develop designs for the city’s cottage court demonstration project at 230 Commerce Drive,” the press release from the city says. “On Thursday, May 5, from 7-8pm, interested Decatur residents are invited to attend an open house at 104 Sycamore Place to see what they’ve come up with.”

The city says there will be “daily opportunities for neighborhood review and comment.”

“By Thursday the 5th, a workable plan — one viable for market developers — is expected for review by the community,” the press release from the city says.

Here is the full press release from the city:

Review Initial Designs for Decatur’s Cottage Court Demonstration Project

Collaborative neighborhood design process concludes with community-wide open house.

For three days in early May, city staff, assisted by planner/architect Bruce Tolar, will work together with surrounding neighbors to develop designs for the city’s cottage court demonstration project at 230 Commerce Drive. On Thursday, May 5, from 7-8pm, interested Decatur residents are invited to attend an open house at 104 Sycamore Place to see what they’ve come up with.

Working to balance city housing goals, market viability, and the input of adjacent property owners, the collaborative process will include daily opportunities for neighborhood review and comment, which will then inform continued design work the next day. By Thursday the 5th, a workable plan — one viable for market developers — is expected for review by the community.

Though cottage courts have been allowed since passage of the Unified Development Ordinance in early 2015, local builders have been reluctant to veer from the dependable single family homes they’re accustomed to. So in response to extensive resident requests for action on housing affordability — via 2010’s Strategic Plan, the Lifelong Community Advisory Board, and the recently completed Better Together initiative — Decatur is pursuing this as an opportunity to explore a more affordable, neighborhood-friendly alternative to large-format single-family infill.

In doing so, the city hopes to demonstrate unmet demand for cottage homes sized roughly 700 to 1,200 square feet, and to identify and address any regulatory barriers that might be preventing the development of similar projects by others.

Per-unit pricing will be dependent on the emerging design, though something around $250,000 is sought. Compliance with the Old Decatur local historic district will be required. The target property was purchased by the city in December, 2015.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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