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What are examples of Middle Housing types?

The City has led a team to propose changes to the Knoxville zoning code that would remove barriers to Middle Housing. With support from Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission and City Council, we hope that changes could take effect on January 1, 2024.

The full details of the City’s submission to Knoxville-Knox County Planning can be found here.

Identifying a geographic area

The Opticos team suggested starting with a somewhat limited geographic area. After analyzing maps and data, the team determined that the Traditional Neighborhood Residential (TDR) area from the Land Use Classification Table (which can be found here) was a good starting point. 

Traditional Neighborhood Residential (TDR) is shown on the map below in yellow.

It is an area in the urban core of Knoxville supported by existing infrastructure such as:

Walkable / Bikeable
Neighborhood Servicing Businesses in proximity
Transit Routes in proximity
Existing middle and multi-family housing in proximity

Notably, South Knoxville is not included in the TDR area. However, the South Waterfront Redevelopment area has Form Based Code which allows, and is supporting, Middle Housing. In fact, numerous new examples of middle housing have been happening already in South Knoxville.

The City’s proposal would allow more types of Middle Housing to be built in TDR areas.

The City’s proposal focuses on allowing specific types of Middle Housing across existing RN-2, RN-3, and RN-4 properties located within TDR area. These types and where they can be utilized are summarized in the chart below. It is important to note that all Middle Housing projects require Planning Staff Review to ensure that middle housing complements the look-and-feel of the neighborhood.

The focus for this group of code changes is on seven types of Middle Housing. These types and where they can be utilized are in the chart below. 

Proposed Middle Housing Types Allowed in TDR

Middle Housing Type Permitted Use + Planning Staff Review
RN-2 RN-3 RN-4
Duplex (side-by-side)
Duplex (stacked)
Townhouse (small - 3-4 units)
Townhouse (large - 5-8 units)
Multiplex (small - 5-10 units)

* Subject to additional location criteria, because three-story (stacked) triplexes are most appropriate when located in areas which transition from commercial corridors or main streets and higher-intensity areas into lower-intensity residential neighborhoods. 

NEW Construction Standards for Middle Housing within the TDR areas to promote compatibility with neighborhoods include:

Dimensional Standards (found here) such as lot width, height, set back, etc.
Parking Standards (found here) for off-street requirements
Design Standards (found here) to ensure neighborhood compatible structures

CONVERSION Construction Standards for Middle Housing within the TDR areas to retain existing housing stock and neighborhood character can be found here.