A house flipper turned developer in Charlotte, North Carolina, thinks that his plan for a subdivision of tiny houses will be a boon for first-time home buyers and people hoping to downsize. However, some of his neighbors are more concerned about the potential impact on their own property values.
Kevin Young’s would include 50 houses, some as small as 500 square feet, when fully built out. The houses would sell for as little as $89,000, less than half the median home price in Charlotte. But nearby homeowners have asked the Charlotte City Council to block further development, in The State.
“Tiny houses” are typically built on trailers, but Young’s houses would be built on concrete foundations, and in all respects other than size would be just like any single-family home. The city, in fact, agrees with him. Ed McKinney, the city’s interim planning director, said there’s no minimum size for single-family homes in Charlotte and that the tiny home label is a marketing ploy only.
“To be clear, they are only tiny houses in the marketing name only,” McKinney said. “Many of the tiny houses that people are familiar with (from TV) are on wheels. And the only place you can do that now is in an RV park, and you have to have a site zoned for that.”
Young, however, calls Keyo Park West “Charlotte’s first tiny house community,” and says that houses will range in size from 493 to 1,000 square feet. He has yet to submit a formal plan for the development and so far has constructed only a single 500-square-foot house. But that hasn’t done much to reassure neighbors.
One of them is Robert Wilson, who lives about a half-mile away from Young’s planned development.
“You specifically designate areas for mobile homes, and this is no different,” Wilson said. “We want this stopped. We aren’t against (zoning that allows three homes per acre). We are just talking about these types. It will greatly diminish our property values.”
Young thinks some of the opposition is racial (he is African-American while nearby residents are mainly white), and that neighbors are probably afraid that the small homes will be bought by black residents.
“We have the most coolest, most eclectic group of people on earth,” Young said of those who have asked about the development. Ages range from 22 to 72 and include a number of people who simply want to downsize.
In addition to the single house that has been built so far, two other lots on the 19-acre parcel are under contract, Young told the newspaper.
The backdrop for Young’s planned development is a city-wide effort to build more affordable housing. Media attention has helped make tiny houses an attractive option for some potential buyers, says Kim Skobba, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia who has taught a class on tiny houses.
“However, having an interest in tiny houses might not translate to community acceptance,” she said. “Opposition to affordable housing, regardless of the form, is common, so I guess I am not too surprised to see pushback on tiny homes.”