Miami is a melting pot not only of cultures, ethnicities, and cuisine, but also of students, professionals, couples, families, retirees, and tourists. However, contemporary housing fails to represent this diverse population by developing only single-family homes and condos - leaving few options in-between. Miami is missing middle-density building types: townhouses, row houses, courtyard housing, live-work units, mansion apartments, cottage courts, plexes, and more. Why are these middle units important?
Benefits Community. Overdevelopment and crowded condos have made “density” a bad word among many communities. However, density encompasses a wide variety of housing, including middle housing. While still dense, these building types are small-scale and blend seamlessly in any community, which therefore make permit approval an easier process. They create a fine-grain mix of families, incomes, and ethnicities.
Benefits Budget. Attached housing is economical due to the utilization of the shared “party wall.” Costs are saved in the building process because of their simple forms and smaller size, resulting in less waste on unnecessary construction and allocating more resources for better quality. As the city matures, these units can also be easily adapted for other uses in the future.
Benefits City. While large development tends to occur in the hinterlands, mature neighborhoods offer vacant lots and opportunities for redevelopment within city limits. These infill properties are ideal for small, incremental growth. Building neighborhood-scaled attached housing enhances the community by developing vacant lots, creates density where transit is readily available, and increases the city’s tax-base.
Properly and tastefully built, middle housing advances many local groups. As the Miami housing market continues to heighten, it is crucial for architects and developers to consider these middle housing units. As a city, we have always been proud of our mixed communities and now is our chance to reflect our diversity in our built environment.
What other places could benefit from these often forgotten middle units?
Credits: Photographs by Jennifer Garcia. Data linked to sources.