Middle Housing

Middle Housing includes a range of house-sized choices with multiple units between single-family homes and larger apartment buildings. It fits the height and form of homes and neighborhoods.
fourplex

You will find Middle Housing types, such as duplexes and walking courts, built throughout Louisville’s older neighborhoods. Zoning laws in Louisville-Jefferson County would eventually lead to the end of Middle Housing construction and support the post-WWII building and isolation of single-family detached homes and their populations. Re-legalizing Middle Housing will expand attainable housing across Louisville Metro and execute the goals of Plan 2040 by increasing housing choices and opportunities in new and existing neighborhoods.

View examples of the different types of middle housing and how they might be placed in a neighborhood here:

What is Middle Housing? - Learn More


 

Middle Housing - OPEN HOUSE EVENTS

Join us for two in-person open house events in May to learn more about the proposed Middle Housing amendment, ask questions and discuss with Planning staff, and provide feedback. These events are open house-style, so there will not be a formal presentation. Please join us at the most convenient time for you during the events below.

 

Wednesday, May 8

3 - 6 PM

Alberta O. Jones Park

(744 S. 23rd Street)

Saturday, May 11

10 AM - 2 PM

South Central Regional Library

(7300 Jefferson Blvd.)


Middle Housing - Proposed Changes to the Land Development Code (LDC)

Building on two years of research and community conversations, the Office of Planning is proposing an amendment (23-LDC-0003) to the Louisville Metro Land Development code (LDC) that will allow Middle Housing to be built in all residential areas in Louisville Metro. The proposed changes include six different Middle Housing types: duplex, triplex, fourplex, townhouses, walking courts, and cottage courts.

Middle Housing will be included in LDC Chapter 4, Part 3: Permitted with Special Standards. This means that the Middle Housing types listed above will be permitted in all zoning districts where residential use is allowed, provided that the standards for building size, height, setbacks, and other design criteria are met. The standards are in ranges that will fit the form of existing homes and neighborhoods, allowing for flexibility and easy implementation.

Learn more about the proposed changes by using the links below. We want to hear form you! Please provide feedback or ask questions in the comment form included on this page. If you would like to reach out directly to provide feedback, please call (502) 574-5860 or (502) 574-8272 or Email Us. The online comment period will close on Sunday, May 12, 2024.

Middle Housing Draft - Summary of Proposed Changes to the LDC

Middle Housing Draft - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Middle Housing Draft - Standards & Graphics

Where will Middle Housing be allowed? - MAP

Middle Housing - Detailed Changes to the LDC

Online Comments (Received 03/18 - 04/02)

View text versions of the Middle Housing Summary and FAQs below.

Proposed Middle Housing LDC Changes - Summary (Text)

An overview of proposed changes to the Louisville Metro Land Development Code (LDC) that will allow Middle Housing by right.

What is Middle Housing?

Middle Housing includes a range of house-sized choices with multiple units between single-family homes and larger apartment buildings. It fits the height and form of homes and neighborhoods.

What are the proposed changes?

  • BUILDING TYPES ALLOWED: Duplex, Triplex, Fourplex, Townhouse, Walking Court, & Cottage Court
  • WHERE ARE THEY ALLOWED: All zoning districts that allow for residential use in the Traditional Neighborhood, Neighborhood, Village, and Village Center form districts.
  • HOW MANY ON EACH BLOCK: No more than 60% of a block will be for duplex, triplex, or fourplex buildings. Only one duplex, triplex, or fourplex is allowed per lot.
  • LOCATION/ORIENTATION: Middle Housing must have frontage on a public street. In Neighborhood and Village form districts, duplex, triplex, and fourplex buildings are only allowed on local roads, unless a public sidewalk is present.
  • SIZE & SETBACKS: Each building type has a unique set of standards that provide for a range of sizes and setbacks, all of which are compatible with the form of homes and neighborhoods.
  • DESIGN
    • All building types require an entrance facing the street and a connection to the public sidewalk. 
    • Exterior stairs leading to an upper story shall not face the public street. 
    • There shall be no blank walls facing a public street or residential use.
    • All off-street parking shall be located to the rear of the principal structure.
  • HEIGHT: Maximum height is 2.5 stories in Traditional (TN, VC) forms and 2 stories in Suburban (N, V) forms.
  • PARKING: Middle Housing will follow the existing parking standards set forth in Chapter 9 of the LDC.
  • CONVERSION: Single-family homes may be converted to Middle Housing, provided the proposed structure meets all required standards for Middle Housing. A maximum of 4 units is permitted, with a minimum unit size of 600 square feet.

What other general changes are proposed in this update?

  • Reduce Private Yard Area requirement in Traditional Neighborhood form.
  • Allow second story addition to encroach into Side Yard Setback if existing structure already encroaches.
  • Decrease minimum lot size for single-family homes
Middle Housing Proposed Changes - FAQ (Text)

Q: What is zoning? What is the Land Development Code? How does Middle Housing relate to these things?
A: Zoning is the law that governs development in a community, by designating each parcel of land into a "zone" that determines how the land can be used. The Land Development Code (LDC) is a set of rules and regulations, which includes zoning, that defines how land can be used, how a development such as a new warehouse or home addition must be designed, and the procedures for obtaining approval. The Middle Housing draft regulations are an amendment to the Land Development Code that would allow duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhouses, cottage courts, and walking courts throughout residential areas of Louisville Metro. The LDC currently prohibits these building types in most areas, so the law must be changed to allow them.

Q: Under the proposed regulations, will Middle Housing require a change in zoning?
A: No. The proposed Middle Housing regulations ensure that the building types and forms are compatible with single-family neighborhoods. As long as the proposed Middle Housing project is in strict compliance with the outlined design standards (height, setbacks, parking location, etc.), a rezoning will not be necessary. This applies to all existing residential zoning districts within the Traditional Neighborhood, Neighborhood, Village, and Village Center form districts, whether single-family or multi-family. Use the following link to see a map of where Middle Housing would be permitted under the proposed regulations: https://arcg.is/1frmme0 (this map is for general information purposes only). If a proposed development does not meet these Middle Housing standards, a change in zoning would be required.
 

Q: Will Middle Housing be allowed in small cities with zoning authority, such as Shively or Middletown?
A: No. The proposed Middle Housing regulations are an amendment to the Louisville Metro Land Development Code. Each of the twelve cities with zoning authority (List of Cities), which have their own land use regulations and development codes, must amend their individual codes to allow for Middle Housing.

Q: Is this a proposal for Louisville Metro Government to build Middle Housing? Who will decide where Middle Housing is built? 
A: No. Louisville Metro Government is not proposing to build Middle Housing. The proposed regulations will create the option to build Middle Housing on private property as the rules for land development apply to development on private land - not public land.  The regulations themselves do not provide any subsidies, incentives, or public investments for construction. The draft regulations have accounted for limitations in the built environment but the decision to build middle housing, and where, will be up to each property owner.

Q: Is Middle Housing the same as affordable housing?
A: No. “Affordable housing” is a term generally defined as housing where the occupants spend 30% or less of their monthly income on housing expenses, including utilities. This means that housing affordability is different for everyone, based on their monthly income and family size. Middle Housing results in more affordability by design than a typical detached single-family home or larger apartment building because it requires less land and the construction method reduces material costs. These cost savings are passed on to the renter or buyer, which results in housing options that are more affordable for everyone, regardless of monthly income and household size. In addition to these cost savings, Middle Housing will create more housing supply in the city, which naturally lowers prices when demand is high. Like single-family homes and large apartment buildings, Middle Housing can meet a variety of affordability needs in the community – from efficiency units to luxury dwellings.

Q: Is Middle Housing only for renters? How can Middle Housing help increase homeownership?
A: Middle Housing is for everyone! It expands opportunities for both renting and owning. Currently, there are limited options to rent and the price of homeownership continues to rise. Middle Housing gives people more choices when looking to either rent or purchase a home. Building types such as duplexes, townhouses, walking courts, and cottage courts can be developed on a single lot or with each unit on a separate lot, creating new opportunities for homeownership without the cost or maintenance burdens of a detached single-family home.

Q: If Middle Housing is built in my neighborhood, will it lower my property value?
A: No. Because Middle Housing is limited or prohibited in most cities, there is little research specific to Middle Housing’s impact on surrounding property values. However, several studies have shown that the presence of multi-family and mixed-income housing in a community has a positive or neutral effect on surrounding property values. One study of properties in Tallahassee, Florida, found that single-family homes within 300 feet of a multi-unit property experienced no negative impact on property values, regardless of the type of multi-family housing (townhouse vs. apartment building). In several cases, single-family homes near multi-family buildings had higher property values than single-family homes that were not near multi-family. The same trends were observed in a separate study in Richmond, Virginia.

One of the goals of Middle Housing is to create walkable neighborhoods, where people can safely access their daily needs within a 10–15-minute walk . Many research studies over the last decade show a positive relationship between walkability and property value. According to the research and advocacy firm Strong Towns, between 2012 and 2019, 44 cities (including Louisville) across the United States experienced a larger increase in property values for walkable neighborhoods when compared to neighborhoods that are car-dependent.

Q: How will infrastructure needs (roads, sewers, etc.) be considered for Middle Housing?
A:  Middle Housing is a more compact land use and can utilize existing infrastructure or minimize costs for new infrastructure. Every new construction project in Louisville is reviewed by the agencies responsible for delivering infrastructure, such as transportation (Metro Public Works/Kentucky Transportation Cabinet), sewers (Metropolitan Sewer District), electricity (LG&E), and water (Louisville Water Company). Middle Housing will be reviewed under the same standards as all other housing construction. The appropriate agency will determine if there is enough capacity to accommodate a proposed Middle Housing project, based on existing infrastructure, and may require improvements according to their policies.

Q: If I live in a neighborhood subject to an HOA or with deed restrictions, is Middle Housing allowed?
A: That depends on the specific restrictions. It is important that you understand what restrictions exist on your property. Many properties have a deed restriction or a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) agreement that prohibits all forms of housing that is not a detached single-family home, including Accessory Dwelling Units. Louisville Metro Government does not review, administer, or enforce private agreements, unless specifically named as party to the agreement, and it would be up to the individual property owner or HOA to determine compliance.

Deed restrictions are a historic and active tool used to exclude people from single-family neighborhoods. According to Louisville Metro’s Advancing Equity report, “‘Deeds of Restriction’ and ‘Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions’ enforced by homeowners associations…work to exclude individuals through economic and social barriers, and many of the “values” they put forth are contrary to the goals and objectives of the adopted Comprehensive Plan and are often more restrictive than adopted land use ordinances.”

 
Click on each building to see more information and detailed standards.

Duplex

DUPLEX

Triplex

TRIPLEX

Fourplex

FOURPLEX

Townhouse

TOWNHOUSE

Walking Court

WALKING COURT

Cottage Court

COTTAGE COURT

 


General Middle Housing FAQ

What are the benefits of Middle Housing?
Benefits to Middle Housing Image

Please click the button below for a detailed description of the benefits:

Benefits of Middle Housing

 

What are the barriers?

The dominance of single-family zoning isn’t the only obstacle to Middle Housing. 

Please click the button below to learn more about the barriers:

Barriers to Middle Housing

What residential zoning districts currently allow Middle Housing?
  • Middle Housing is not permitted in the residential, single-family districts, including R-R, R-E, & R-1 – R-5. Single-family zoning districts occupy 75% of the land in Louisville-Jefferson County, KY.
  • Duplexes are permitted in the R-5B, Residential, two-family district
  • Middle Housing could potentially be developed in the R-5A, R-6, R-7 and R-8A residential, multi-family districts. However, developing new Middle Housing in these districts is limited and restricted by the maximum density, lot size, and other requirements of the LDC, such as private yard areas or the width of landscape buffers.

To view up-to-date zoning districts and much more, please visit LOJIC.org. The Land Development Code is viewable HERE.

The map below demonstrates that the majority of land in Louisville Metro is zoned for single-family residential use only (yellow areas).

Zoning Map 4.14.23
How do I find Middle Housing?

 

  • Look for more than one residence attached, included in a building, or arranged around a common yard space
  • If it is not clear, look for extra doors, more than one meter, or addresses

 

Finding Middle Housing Image

 


Upcoming Outreach and Engagement

Please view our Upcoming Outreach and Engagement page for all events, meetings, or activities related to Middle Housing:

Upcoming Outreach and Engagement


Completed Outreach and Engagement

Architects (AIA), Landscape Architects (ASLA), and Planners (APA) Design Charette

On July 18, 2023 the Kentucky chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and American Planning Association (APA) convened a 2 day design event. The purpose was to reimagine middle housing on an existing site in Louisville, KY. The existing lot used for demonstration would have allowed for 12 single-family, detached homes and up to 1 accessory dwelling unit (ADU) per home for a total of 24 dwelling units (homes + ADUs). Small groups formed and each group created their own concepts for how to use the land for Middle Housing. Below is a collection of that work (images coming soon):

  • Concept 1
  • Concept 2
  • Concept 3
  • Concept 4
Middle Housing Tours of Louisville (2023)

Louisville Metro's Office of Planning, AARP Kentucky, and the Metropolitan Housing Coalition hosted two walking tours and a mobile tour for community members to learn about Middle Housing. The walking tours took place in the Park DuValle and Old Louisville neighborhoods, while the mobile tour visited many different neighborhoods throughout the city. A summary of the Middle Housing Tours is available below.

  • Middle Housing Tours of Louisville Summary
Planning for Middle Housing Workshop (Fall 2022)

Four community workshops were hosted in the Fall of 2022 at different branches of the Louisville Free Public Library. Two additional workshops were then offered to the University of Louisville's Master of Urban Planning students and The Muhammad Ali Scholar Program scholars. Participants at these events worked together in small groups to build their own middle housing neighborhood using LEGO bricks. The bricks represented different types of housing, such as single-family detached, duplexes, or multi-unit buildings. A park, bus stop, and neighborhood services were also included in each neighborhood.

Pictures and observations of each Middle Housing neighborhood built are available here:

Planning for Middle Housing Workshop

Lego Image
Lego Image
Walking Tour in Old Louisville - AARP (Fall 2022)

Planning and Design Services led a tour of Middle Housing for AARP - Livable Communities in Old Louisville on September 21, 2022. 

route walking tour
walking tour compilation

 

Middle Housing Information Session (Winter 2021)

On December 15, 2021, a virtual information session was held for public that took a deep dive into the concepts of Middle Housing, known most commonly as Missing Middle Housing. Planning and Design Services partnered with AARP to make this event possible. Drew Finke of Opticos Design presented on the topic and a Q&A followed.

To view the presentation and summary of the event, including the Q&A, please use the buttons below:

Information Session Presentation - Missing Middle Housing

Information Session Summary with Q&A

Opticos Middle Housing Image
Opticos Middle Housing Image

Resources

Resources

Process for Changes to the Land Development Code (text amendment)

A public hearing by the Louisville Metro Planning Commission is required prior to any change to the Land Development Code, known as a text amendment. Public Hearings are open to the public for commenting on a proposal. After the Planning Commission reviews the proposed change, they will make a recommendation to the Louisville Metro Council for final action (approval/denial with/without revision). For an amendment to take effect in some suburban cities within Jefferson County that have exercised their right to zoning authority under state law, the respective legislative body must approve a local ordinances enacting the amendment. Following the Planning Commission's review, a recommendation is also made to these legislative bodies having jurisdiction.

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