Radical Plan Goes Small, Not Big, to Densify Raleigh

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan discusses the plan put forth by three Raleigh architects to densify the city's pre-existing residential neighborhoods by creating a new RA-50 or "Alley Residential" zoning classification.

Raleigh has a predicament similar to other cities with outdated zoning laws, "newcomers are greeted by two equally unsustainable options for housing: buying a large lot downtown; or buying a car and commuting from a more affordable home in the suburbs," writes Campbell-Dollaghan.

As Raleigh drafts its "most dramatic zoning reforms ever," architect David Hill and his collaborators, Erin Lewis and Matthew Griffith, of architecture firm In Situ, are proposing a new zoning classification that would allow the construction of alleyway residences. "In Situ and Hill propose divvying up existing lots into smaller parcels," explains Campbell-Dollaghan, "suitable for smaller single- or double-occupancy homes."

"These new parcels would yield a multiple bottom line. Current landowners could generate income off their excess land by either selling an RA-50 parcel or building a dwelling on one leasing it," they explain. "The city would benefit from new utility service units evenly dispersed within an existing downtown infrastructure, generating new income with minimal investment in new infrastructure. Finally, the environmental benefits of a more generous pedestrian environment."

"Along with their idea for a new type of zoning, the team developed a prototype for a modular alley dwelling," says Campbell-Dollaghan. "Their prototype would cost around the same amount as a new car."

Full Story: As A City Remakes Itself, Putting Forward A Quietly Radical Plan

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