​Village Update: Single Family Homes Reign Supreme

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“Single family homes reign supreme,” said Frank Gladu at the Oct. 1 Sewanee Village update meeting summarizing the takeaways from the recent meeting between University faculty and staff and BP Construction. BP is the lead developer in the Sewanee Village initiative headed up by Gladu. The purpose of the meeting with BP was to develop a housing strategy. “It’s complicated and multi-dimensional,” Gladu said.

There were both “the rental market and for purchase market” to consider when deciding what to build, Gladu pointed out. There were also the subsets of University employees and non-employees wanting to live in Sewanee.

“First and foremost, the University needs places for employees to live,” Gladu insisted. “Single family homes are priced out of reach of a lot of people.”

Based on input from the two sessions where employees voiced their housing preferences, Gladu described the “ideal” as a small two bedroom, two bath home, approximately 1,500 square foot in size, in the $200,000-$250,000 price range.

According to the opinions expressed at the meetings, “Duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and townhouses don’t fit here,” Gladu said. “Shared walls make living space more affordable, but affordability doesn’t trump the single family home.” Single-family homes as rentals were viewed as acceptable, Gladu added, while the rental cost of newly constructed apartments could be prohibitive.

Community resident Anne Griffin pointed to the housing needs of interns and the many VISTA volunteers now serving the community.

Gladu observed the VISTA volunteers often “cobbled roommates together to split the cost” and rented a house. “A newly built 1,200-1,500 square foot home could be a sale property or rental. The rentals offered by the University are almost always full.”

Asked about housing opportunities for non-employees who wanted to live in Sewanee, Gladu pointed to the Parsons Green subdivision, which initially offered 15 lots and still had three lots available. The covenants of the subdivision state the homebuilder must be a permanent resident and the homes can only be sold to permanent residents. Except for Parsons Green, only employees can build on the domain.

Gladu said three lots were also unspoken for among the lots the University released last October for employees to construct homes on. After six months the unspoken for lots were to be made available to non-employee residents, Gladu noted, “but that hasn’t happened.”

Community resident Joe Porter observed the $18,000 infrastructure fee at Parson’s Green was prohibitive.

Housing is one of five Village priority projects. Gladu gave a timeline on other projects. He anticipates the new bookstore will open Easter semester and BP Construction will break ground on the mixed-use food market and apartment building in late 2019 or early 2020.

Plans also call for engaging a landscape architect to create a conceptual design for the Village Green proposed for the current Sewanee Market site, Gladu said. He stressed the mixed-use food market building would need to be completed before the Village Green project could proceed. Having a conceptual design was important because it would provide a cost estimate for Village Green, Gladu said. Funds would need to be raised for the construction since the Village Green was not an income-producing project.