$2 million townhomes being developed under 'missing middle' housing efforts

Elaina Athans Image
Friday, October 28, 2022
Townhomes being developed under 'missing middle' housing efforts
A stately home, which was built almost a century ago, is set to be knocked down for new construction and it's incensing nearby residents, who feel being developed under a guise.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A stately home, built almost a century ago, is set to be knocked down for new construction. The news is incensing nearby homeowners who feel it's being developed under a guise.

The home is located at 908 Williamson Drive in Hayes Barton.

17 high-end townhomes are being proposed on the near 2-and-a-half acre property.

Ginnie Pitler lives right across the street.

"All it does is create angst and discord," said Ginnie Pitler.

She understands Raleigh is growing and is not opposed to density-building, but feels it's a real stretch to say this project falls under efforts to produce more housing options for the "missing middle."

"I don't think that property across the street is going to sell for $2 million a piece. Seventeen times $2 million, is not going to meet the need that we have for high-density properties, high-density living. It's not going to solve a problem that we have," said Pitler.

Residents are fighting the proposal and says the area is already seeing its share of compact development.

The old Josephus Daniels home is up the road. That was leveled, and a series of homes are going to be built.

ABC11 reached out to the City of Raleigh about the Save Our Neighborhood campaign and the efforts to offer more affordable housing options.

Patrick Young, Director of Planning and Development, issued a statement:

Over the past three years, City Council has made several changes to our land development rules that allow more housing types and more housing in more places in our community.

Before these changes, only single-family housing was allowed in most of the city. These newly allowed housing types are called "missing middle" housing - housing types that fit between single-family housing and large apartment buildings, such as backyard cottages (ADUs), townhouses, duplexes, and small garden apartments. These missing middle housing types can be found in many Raleigh neighborhoods developed prior to World War II (such as Cameron Park and Oakwood), before they were made illegal by local ordinances, and they fit in well in these neighborhoods.

Missing middle housing is important because it's more accessible and often more affordable than housing single family, making is accessible to more families, and because it suits families at all points in life that may not want or be able to maintain a single-family house (e.g.: young un-marrieds, retirees with limited mobility). Missing middle housing is also more energy efficient, creates better conditions for high quality transit, and encourages walking.

It's also important because the main driver of the high cost of housing in Raleigh is that there are too few housing units available for the demand to live in our community. Raleigh is one of the most attractive and fastest growing cities in the Country, and a lot of new residents bring more wealth and income than existing Raleighites. If we don't find ways to create more housing supply, many existing Raleighites will be outcompeted for housing opportunities and housing prices will continue to rise significantly.

There are numerous rules and safeguards to ensure missing middle housing does not significantly worsen stormwater runoff, traffic, and quality of life, and these are enforced by City staff pursuant to rules adopted by City Council, following extensive public engagement processes since 2019. A site-by-site public hearing or public notice is not required, as these rules were carefully designed to protect the public interest while allowing housing to be produced more affordably and faster.

We tried to speak with Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin about the efforts. She did not respond to our requests for comment.

Baldwin told ABC11 a couple months ago, the process has made public every step of the way.

"What we're trying to do is really, which is now defined as a national best practice, to allow for different types of housing and housing choices," said Baldwin.

The City says there will be opportunity for additional community engagement on this topic, but residents will have to wait until after the holidays to weight in. A meeting is planned for early next year.