How Virginia Communities Are Encouraging 'Missing Middle Housing'

Local leaders hope that streamlining permit processes and eliminating restrictive zoning regulations will set the groundwork for increased production of small and mid-sized multi-family housing.

2 minute read

August 12, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Roanoke, Virginia

Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock

As cities across the Commonwealth look to zoning reform to accommodate higher density and create more housing stock, Wyatt Gordon examines the "missing middle housing" programs being implemented in Norfolk and Arlington, both exploring options for expanding allowable housing types. 

As covered here last week, Norfolk has published a Missing Middle Pattern Book designed to make new housing development more streamlined and affordable. "People often visualize adding more units means that the building will get bigger and bigger, but some of the examples identified in the pattern book demonstrate that you can have a house-scale building with multiple units in it," says Dan Parolek, author of Missing Middle Housing.

Meanwhile, Arlington, where 75 percent of residential land is zoned for single-family homes, is considering relaxing its zoning code to allow a broader diversity of multi-family buildings. According to Arlington's comprehensive planning section supervisor, Kellie Brown, "[t]he existing zoning doesn’t allow for more missing middle housing, so there are limited opportunities to increase our housing supply under many local ordinances today." Creating the opportunity for more housing means reforming other restrictive regulations such as parking requirements and minimum lot sizes. 

"This is about meeting a need because developers are struggling to produce single-family homes at attainable price points,' says Parolek. "COVID was just the fuel on the fire of already increasing housing prices, meaning cities need to think creatively about how to deliver more housing for residents."

Friday, July 23, 2021 in The Virginia Mercury

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25 - Wired

Front of an Spanish style bungalow with striped window awnings and a tree and yard landscaped with cacti.

‘Culinary Hubs’ Turn Homes Into Micro-Restaurants

Real estate developers around the country are converting old single-family homes into “culinary hubs,” reports The New York Times.

February 25 - The New York Times

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25 - Fox 59

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.