What’s Really Missing in the “Missing Middle”

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by Shafraaz Kaba (https://www.afab.world/) and Chelsey Jersak (https://situateinc.ca/)

We know exactly why there is a missing middle – price point. The cost of land and construction is high, and a building is more likely to get built – and more affordable for the end consumer – if these costs are split between a high number of housing units.

We also knew our submission for the City of Edmonton’s Missing Middle Infill Design Competition needed to address this price/affordability issue head on. We decided to ambitiously confront the issue by bringing a non-profit housing developer partner onto our team, the Right at Home Housing Society.

Our entry to the competition, ‘Connected Layers’ is a creativity-forward, community-focused infill project that drives positive interaction between people and the land, the climate, the context and each other. The project is designed to house a diverse mix of residents, including large families, single parent families, seniors, young adults, and adults with disabilities. The project would rent a quarter of the 38 housing units at below market value. We were very disappointed when we learned our entry was disqualified.

Part of the competition criteria was to submit a pro forma with the assumed purchase price for the land at or near $1.7 million. We submitted this pro forma, despite the fact that it assumes the land is already zoned to accommodate a four storey building, which it is not. We also submitted an alternative pro forma with a purchase price for the land that’s closer to reality – that is, the price a developer might actually be willing to pay for the land under the current zoning, and the price at which we could provide a portion of the homes at an affordable rate.

Unfortunately, the City was confused by our submission, so instead of being able to make a point about housing cost/affordability, we were disqualified.

We do, however, believe that this is an exceptionally important conversation to be having in our City. So instead of seeing our submission displayed alongside the other competitors, we will host an alternate event to have a conversation about what we think is really missing in the current missing middle conversation: housing affordability. Please join us on May 30, 7pm at Café Lavi. Tickets available at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/salon-des-refuses-a-disqualified-presentation-and-panel-tickets-61827388383