Missing Middle housing, located within walking distance to shops and amenities, fills the gap between single-family homes and apartment buildings. Opticos’s Dan Parolek was recently interviewed for an article by John Van Gieson, “Mid-Range Density: The middle ground of development,” which appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of On Common Ground.
In the article, Parolek says, “There’s a convergence of the demand created by Baby Boomers who are moving back, not just into city centers but into surrounding single-family neighborhoods, and the Millennials who want walkable urban living.”
Missing Middle housing units are small—typically running 1,200 square feet or smaller, Parolek says—and in order for them to work, they must be designed well and built with quality materials. Built-ins, compact kitchens, and shared living and dining spaces are all common features. “You can get quite a bit into 650 square feet,” Parolek said. “Really what people are trading is size for amenities that are typical in a walkable, urban context, and sometimes higher quality.”
For both Baby Boomers and Millenials, a modestly-sized duplex, townhouse, or cottage within walking distance to a supermarket, drug store, medical services, and a few good shops and restaurants is the ideal housing solution, reducing auto-dependence and increasing social time. “It’s a much more simplified lifestyle than what we had before,” said Bob Greenberg, who recently moved into an 11-unit cottage community on Seattle’s Bainbridge Island with his wife in order to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
Other communities centered around walkable living and featuring Missing Middle housing types are being developed across the country, from Kirkland, WA, to Ocean Springs, MS, to Beaufort, SC.
Photo caption: Stacked duplex homes in Habersham, a waterfront community near Beaufort, SC.