Durham, N.C. — Some builders are taking a unique approach to respond to the housing crunch in the Triangle – by building small homes on very small lots.
The first of these homes was just listed today near downtown Durham for $525,000.
They are 1,200 square feet, without much yard space. While some dislike this high density, the builder believes it’s necessary to increase supply.
At the corner of Club and Gregson, there used to be just one house. When construction is finished, however, there will be four single-family homes and six duplex units.
“It is a way to bring more product to the market and not these huge, massive McMansions. They are nice size houses for couples or small families, singles,” says Chris Hodges, of Redeeming Development Group, the developer for the site.
This high-density is possible because of something called a “small lot option.” The City of Durham started allowing homes on lots as small as 2,000 square feet in 2019.
“Durham is running out of land,” says the assistant city planning director Bo Dobrzenski. “We’re a growing city.”
Data from the city shows the small lot option was used 43 times in 2021.
“We need to increase the housing stock. Increase the supply, mitigate some of the high price concerns that we’ve got,” says Dobrzenski.
Realtor Matt Lunceford Blivin says it’s a great way to break into the market.
He acknowledges they have gotten some criticism about the high density – as some feel it is out of place for the character of a historic neighborhood.
“But I think we’re meeting today’s demand with projects like this, and this house that was standing here was built in 1942 when the population of Durham was around 75,000 people,” he says. “Today it’s 250,000 people or more. So we’re re-imagining what living in Downtown Durham is like, which is something I’m really excited about.”
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