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Investing in the Middle | By: Grace Widdicombe

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The following is from the Missing in the Middle handbook presented by the City of Eugene Planning & Development Dept.

Missing the Middle Handbook

With much of Eugene’s housing stock developed between the 1950s and 1980s many neighborhoods lack options.

Residents must choose between single family homes or apartments. With the community’s population growing and aging, Missing Middle infill in walkable areas and near key transit corridors, fulfills many goals articulated through Envision Eugene:

  • Provide housing affordable to all income levels
  • Plan for climate change and energy resiliency
  • Promote compact urban development and efficient transportation options
  • Protect, repair, and enhance neighborhood livability
  • Protect, restore, and enhance natural resources

The current single family zone*(R-1) does not allow most Missing Middle types as an outright use. All of the types are allowed in multi-family zones (with the exception of Secondary Dwelling Units) if meeting minimum density standards. With a goal in Eugene of creating more 20-minute neighborhoods, where residents can find most daily needs within a 20-minute walk from home, fitting these housing types back into the neighborhood mix makes sense.

Where are Missing Middle types currently located in our neighborhoods?

Where should they be incorporated in the future? 

 Remember when City Councilman, Mike Clark spoke to us at the Hilton Garden Inn earlier this year (February 2020)?  He told us then that Eugene is growing so fast that city expects it to grow by 40,000 residents by 2035.  But realistically, he suspects that the numbers are twice that much.

Where are we going to put all the people? It appears that the city of Eugene has opted for the infill plan, and not the expansion plan.  As such, the city is asking developers and investors to create more “housing in the middle”.  While Eugene is encouraging a variety of housing types and sizes that offer option at mid-range price points while contributing a positive character to the neighborhood, and having a walkable streetscape.

The city is hoping for this mid-range housing options that is appealing for all demographics, that increase density  while maintaining consistency of building scale and character with other existing single family dwellings. AND provide attractive an highly functional open spaces that benefit residents and enhance the walking experience within the neighborhood.


     Example of Cottage Cluster configuration on two average                   infill lots of 60’ x 120’

Not only all that, the city is asking for more, promotion of cohesive architecture that is “visually appealing, context sensitive and uses high-quality building materials.”  Please provide off-street parking (behind the clustered building types) and “promote massing, scale and architectural features of new dwellings that contribute to the envisioned neighborhood pattern and address compatibility and transitions between developments.” (Quotes are from the Missing Middle Housing guide on Eugene’s government website.)

So, where are the opportunities? That’s the important question. Would you believe that the city does not provide the answer to this?  No low hanging fruit for us, I must say.

This is not just a Eugene thing, but it’s a nationwide thing. With the majority of today’s housing being built between 1950 and 1980 across the nation, the building middle-class housing is now a movement.  (I remember when the SFR was considered middle class housing)  You can find these middle housing clusters that have been  popping up all over the area.  For example, in Springfield on in the Q Street neighborhood.

You can see them in the Eugene Fairmont neighborhood.

 Actually, they’re all over the place.  To see a good example of some older middle housing dwellings, go to 12th Avenue in Eugene, between Charnelton and Washington Streets.

If you’re looking to build my suggestion is that you build middle housing or multi-family housing. That’s where the money is at.  Take a look at the new housing development on Delta, north of Home Depot when you get a chance.

And by the way, Springfield also has a middle housing initiative.  Google it!

For more information:

National Missing Middle Housing:

Congress for a New Urbanism (CNU): https://www.cnu.org

Urban Land Institute: https://uli.org

Pocket Neighborhoods by Ross Chapin; Book available at the Eugene Public Library:

Wood Village Case Study: www.Oregonmetro.gov

 This article brought to you by:

https://www.gratefulnutshomes.com/  and https://www.oregonhouseflippers.com/ 



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