CodeNext, a long-term overhaul of the Austin’s Land Development Code is underway. In general, the undertaking is a follow up to Imagine Austin, the updated plan that supports a ‘compact and connected’ city. In reviewing a draft report of the rewrite what I found particularly interesting was the description of the “missing middle". In terms of housing types the city has a number of single family homes and, on the other hand, has a number of moderate to large apartment buildings. What are missing are the housing types in-between, these include duplexes, fourplexes, townhouses and small apartment buildings.
As the city grows, it will need to densify in and around the edges of single-family neighborhoods. Developing small multi-family projects, with four or greater units is currently a challenge as it triggers the site plan review process, a lengthy and expensive process. Hopefully, the CodeNext study looks both at land-use and regulatory obstacles to such projects as they are the kinds of projects that allow density to be gently integrated into existing neighborhoods.