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Designing A Simpler Way Of Life

Land partners involved in the Upper Langley affordable housing project pose for a picture on the property. From left: Jerene, Chris Korrow, Christy Korrow and Cary Peterson. Friend and Langley resident Dylan Aposhyan, 15, was also present.  - Justin Burnett / The Record
Land partners involved in the Upper Langley affordable housing project pose for a picture on the property. From left: Jerene, Chris Korrow, Christy Korrow and Cary Peterson. Friend and Langley resident Dylan Aposhyan, 15, was also present.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

An affordable housing project has been proposed in Langley that city officials say breaks from traditional approaches to urban planning and could ultimately serve as a model for future development.

Dubbed Upper Langley, the prospective subdivision would see the construction of 16 single-family lots on 10 acres of forested land on the west side of Al Anderson Avenue, across from the cemetery.

The idea is to create an out-of-the-box development that will not only be truly affordable, but promulgates a strong sense of community, said Cary Peterson, one of a handful of Langley “land partners” working on the project.

“It’s an approach to living where you don’t have everything in your own house,” Peterson said.

Other land partners include Roger and Emma Bennett, Chris and Christy Korrow, and Jerene.

Under the current design, lot sizes are capped at a cozy 1,000 square feet. That helps keep prices down and emphasizes homes that are environmentally sustainable. It also allows for a lot of innovation when it comes to planning, Peterson said.

Because none of the homes will have garages, a communal parking lot will be constructed and residents will access their homes via a path that can be walked or traveled by golf cart.

Other shared community resources will include a commons house, which can be used to house guests, along with sheds, a garden and open space. A total of four 10-foot by 12-foot cabins will be also constructed for use by interns.

Based on artist’s renderings of the proposed development, about half of the 10-acre property would remain forested open space. Additional portions would be similarly preserved as meadow or grassy areas.

As an affordable housing project, the lots will have certain financial limitations as well. While many details have yet to be worked out, such as lot price and buyer eligibility, some things are clear.

For one, home and property values will be largely perpetual. They may increase slightly over the years but no one will be able to buy and then turn a big profit. The reason is simple, Peterson said.

“What we want to do is create truly affordable lots,” she said.

Following with recent changes to Langley’s new housing rules, the land partners proposing the project met with residents of Talking Circle on Al Anderson Avenue Tuesday in a “neighborhood meeting.”

The gathering took place after deadline and could not be reported on for this story, but Jeff Arango, director of the city’s community planning department, said Monday that he expected much contention.

Some outreach has already been done and Talking Circle is a community that has some similar attributes. One can never be too sure, however, when it comes to plans for development, he said.

“I would expect thing will go over fairly smoothly but you never know,” Arango said.

He complimented both the design and ambitions of Upper Langley project, calling them “unique” and that they could very well serve as a model for future projects with similar objectives.

“If they are successful in pulling off this project, it would be a great example of how to do things differently to meet community goals,” Arango said.

“This is a group of private citizens trying to do that and that’s pretty rare,” he said.

This is really just the beginning of the project. Before lots can be sold, land partners will have to successfully navigate the city’s permitting process and then raise money for infrastructure through social investors.

Peterson estimated the entire project will take three to five years to complete.

“Hopefully, there will be a big rush and everything will be done in two years but lets be realistic,” she said.

 

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