Missing Middle Housing

What is Missing Middle Housing?

Missing Middle Housing Explained
Faced with a housing shortage, an affordability crisis and changing demographics, Norfolk’s future housing solution can be found by revisiting the development patterns of some of its oldest neighborhoods that host a variety of neighborhood-scaled housing options — duplexes, four-plexes, cottage courts—seamlessly interspersed with single family homes. 

This varied housing stock, termed “Missing Middle” by Daniel Parolek, author of the book Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Small to Respond to Today’s Housing Crisis, is “a range of multi-unit or clustered housing types, compatible in scale with single-family homes, that help meet the growing demand for walkable, urban living, respond to household demographics, and meet the need for more housing choices at different price points.”

Creating a Pattern Book
We worked with Work Program Architects, who collaborated with GARC and Dills Architects, to establish a Pattern Book to demonstrate how these ideas can succeed again.

The Pattern Book approach is intended to reduce the fear factor of Missing Middle Housing by illustrating how it scales so well with existing single-family homes and provide a “how to” guide for developing Missing Middle Housing in Norfolk. 

  • The pattern book outlines the process for building these varied housing types, both for the builder and for the City. 
  • The builder is provided with a set of design ideas, with floor plans and renderings, as well as a set of instructions on how to proceed.  

The City is provided a set of steps for implementation, including directions on how to work with neighborhoods to find their “hidden” Missing Middle Housing in their communities to build support, ideas for zoning changes to support the development of the Missing Middle Housing and ideas of how to leverage city-owned lots, including pilot projects and model site plans.Missing Middle Pattern Book Cover
Current Efforts
The Missing Middle Pattern Book saw its first incorporation into the Zoning Ordinance in 2021. As an implementation measure of the Broad Creek Refresh Plan: Building a Community of Choice, the Broad Creek Refresh Overlay (BCRO) zoning district was created to add enhanced form standards, regulate and prohibit certain land uses, and incentivize compatible single-family and Missing Middle Housing in the Broad Creek area.  Within the BCRO there are specific regulations for Bruce’s Park that incentivize Missing Middle Housing through measures such as waiving certain development standards and lot dimensional requirements if the structures conform to the Missing Middle Pattern Book, helping to streamline the development approval process.  In addition, the City adopted a new pattern book into plaNorfolk2030 for the Broad Creek area (The Broad Creek Refresh: A Pattern Book), which includes Missing Middle Housing models from the Missing Middle Pattern Book to provide guidance for new residential development that complements the existing neighborhoods of Broad Creek.