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A Tiny-House Model Community Sprouts in D.C.

While cities like New York and San Francisco consider ways to incentivize the development of micro apartments, a Northeast Washington neighborhood has become home to an experiment in small house production.
November 28, 2012, 1pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In an extreme reversal of America's pre-recession housing tastes, the McMansion seems to be going out of favor while the country's appetite for exceedingly small living spaces in urban areas seems to be growing. The latest incarnation of this trend can be found in the Northeast Washington D.C. neighborhood known as Stronghold, where "a cluster of what neighbors call 'those tiny people, building their tiny houses,' has appeared, reports Emily Wax. "The people aren’t really tiny, but their homes are — 150 to 200 square feet of living space, some with gabled roofs, others with bright cedar walls, compact bathrooms and cozy sleeping lofts that add up to living spaces that are smaller than the walk-in closets in a suburban McMansion."

"The group behind Stronghold’s tiny-house community calls itself Boneyard Studios," writes Wax. “'As property values and rents rise across the city, we want to showcase this potential option for affordable housing,' the group writes on its Web site. 'We decided to live the questions: Can we build and showcase a few tiny homes on wheels in a DC urban alley lot? . . . Not in the woods, but in a true community, connected to a neighborhood? Yes, we think. Watch out left coast, the DC adventure begins.'”

"There’s one problem: The city’s zoning laws don’t allow residential dwellings on alley lots unless they are a minimum of 30 feet wide, or roughly the width of a city street. D.C. is currently discussing lifting the 30-foot restriction. So, as Boneyard Studios continues to advocate more progressive zoning laws, it is using the property to showcase what could be."

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Published on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 in The Washington Post
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