Microhousing developments take shape in Asheville, NC

McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture

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Dorm rooms, but make them for adults. That’s the basic concept behind the city’s first 80-unit microhousing development that’s headed to downtown Asheville’s South Slope.

More developments like these appear poised to join Asheville’s cityscape over the next few years. Already, two more microhousing buildings, comprising a total of 231 units, have been proposed for Aston Street, just blocks away from the Hilliard Avenue property (and by the same developer).

With units averaging between 150-250-sqft the average size of a UNC Asheville double dorm room — this model is admittedly not ideal for all lifestyles. But proponents say it’s a piece of the puzzle in dealing with Asheville’s shortage of affordable housing.

“The major benefit of this type of housing is that we have a lot of folks working downtown who would prefer to live near their jobs and not have to have a car or have to commute,” explains Sasha Vrtunski, the City of Asheville’s Affordable Housing Officer.

“It’s catering to single folk, generally speaking — and those who are looking for a more communal, cooperative lifestyle,” she continues. “You are definitely giving something up in return for location and lower rent. Hopefully the rent will work for everyday folks.”

217 Hilliard Avenue

The majority of the 80 units will be available to rent at market rate — with 16 units deeded as affordable for the next twenty years. Each unit has a private bathroom and a half-kitchen, plus a sink and space for small kitchen appliances. Each floor will have a kitchen, lounge, and laundry facility available for shared use — as well as a rooftop deck. No vehicle parking is included, though there will be bike parking.

Aston Street

The current proposal for the Aston apartments includes two, seven-story buildings on a 0.64 acre parcel, with 72 units facing Sawyer Street and 159 units facing Aston Street. The design is similar to 217 Hilliard Ave., with small individual units that include communal laundry, kitchen, and lounge spaces. The proposal will go for a vote before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission as early as Sept. 7.