After a committee discovered that there are more than 12,000 off-street parking spaces in the Joaquin neighborhood — or, nearly as many parking spaces as people, and probably more when on-street parking is counted — I’ve been thinking of ways to better use that space. As the original post mentioned, parking in Joaquin takes up the equivalent of 66.38 football fields. That’s truly mind-blowing.
As I was thinking about this problem I stumbled on several articles and even received an email from a friend about “Katrina cottages.” Basically, Katrina cottages began as a way to deal with housing needs in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
This article by Ben Brown further discusses how the cottages have subsequently grown beyond their initial purpose to become a way to create pocket neighborhoods — or little micro-clusters of houses in formerly wasted or unused space. Brown’s article also includes pictures of the diversity that has emerged out of the cottage concept.
Among other things, Brown’s article further notes that these small homes have now also become a way to provide high quality housing at an affordable price:
Bruce Tolar silenced critics in Mississippi by holding to standards that assured cottage residents the only compromise they’d be making would be in square footage — that, in fact, they’d be gaining custom design components (9-ft. ceilings, quality windows, Hardie siding) they’d never be able to afford in larger homes. Ross Chapin demonstrated home buyers would pay a premium to live in small homes in “pocket neighborhoods” if the design was right.
The take away here is that these types of cottages are small homes that can fill in the gaps of a neighborhood. This post from Placemakers (who have developed this concept) also points out that adding this kind of quality housing to a neighborhood creates more choice for residents. This article also notes that dense neighborhoods with housing for people of varying incomes — or exactly the kind of neighborhoods cottages can help create — have weathered the housing crash better and retained more value.
Provo hasn’t recently suffered from any natural disasters, but more than 12,000 parking spaces in a small neighborhood borders on insanity. It’s a massive amount of wasted space. One clear solution is to begin, gradually if needed, replacing that space with these kinds of developments.