Housing Board sets sights on next affordable development

Thu, 12/17/2020 - 5:30pm

“This is just the first step in trying to brainstorm and visualize the possibilities,” said Chair Cindy Pappas.

Members of the Housing Board toured a parcel of undeveloped property across the street from the Ball O’Brien Park (Plat 18, Lot 2-3) to gather ideas for their next affordable housing project. The board met for a hybrid meeting on Friday, Dec. 11, with the majority of members showing up in person to start the discussion.

“This is a really lovely piece of property and it is a high visibility piece. We want to be proud of what it looks like from the street, but it looks like we have reasonable contours and dry property,” said Pappas. 

“And plenty of space,” added member John Spier.

Spier provided three hypothetical sketches of developments on the property for the board: nine individual house lots using similar density to the Cherry Hill Lane development; three row houses with 12 units (similar to Searles Ball housing), with parking in front of the buildings and most of the lot used for traffic circulation; and 12 units in two large buildings with a remote parking lot on a different location of the lot, allowing for more green space.

Member Stacy Henshaw “liked the idea of tiny houses” on the property because they are energy-efficient, while also adding a unique aesthetic feature to the development.

“Very little energy to maintain” the tiny houses, said Henshaw.

Pappas leaned towards the rowhouse model.

“From a cost-effective [perspective], the shared wall concept has a lot of merit,” said Pappas.

“No reason we can’t do two or three different things,” said Spier.

Throughout the duration of the meeting, members discussed the contours of the property as they walked around its boundaries to get a better sense of the scope and scale of the parcel, pointing out areas with vegetation, stone walls, and critical areas of need for brush cutting.

Pappas asked for the board members to seek inspiration from other such developments and to come to the next meeting with ideas.

“I think the challenge for the next meeting would be [to look] for pilot communities that have done stuff like this, to look for anything that resonates with you and bring it to the meeting,” said Pappas.