What did the experts say about Missing Middle Housing in Knoxville?

Chief Policy Officer

Cheryl Ball
[email protected]
(865) 215-4991

400 Main St., Room 655
Knoxville, TN 37902

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What did the experts say about Missing Middle Housing in Knoxville?

  Opticos Design Knoxville Scan Missing Middle Housing Report [PDF]
Opticos Design hired to analyze Knoxville for Middle Housing

The City of Knoxville, East Tennessee Realtors, and Knoxville-Knox County Planning partnered in 2022 to have Opticos Design, experts in the field, do an analysis of our zoning, opportunities, and barriers for Missing Middle Housing.

The detailed report from Opticos can be found here. In short, the report helped identify zoning code barriers, areas of town best suited for Middle Housing, and recommendations specific to helping Knoxville diversify housing stock.   

Where does Middle Housing work best?

  Walkable Neighborhood
In the Knoxville report, Opticos indicated the best opportunities for Middle Housing are in neighborhoods already supported by infrastructure.

They are:

Walkable / Bikeable
Served by nearby Neighborhood Businesses
Served by Transit
Close to areas with existing middle and multi-family housing

Opticos has found that Missing Middle Housing has the greatest chance of success in traditional neighborhoods that often have smaller lots, strong infrastructure, are often serviced by alleys, have access to sidewalks and bicycle routes, mixed use areas are close by, and there is network connectivity for greenways and multi-modal transportation options. Often traditional neighborhoods have some of this type of housing already, just like in Knoxville.

Middle Housing = Attainable Housing

Missing Middle Housing is often called “Attainable Housing” as it typically easier to attain than a single-family home. This can be true both financially, and from a capacity standpoint. The benefits of not having to take care of a lawn but also having a little more space is appealing to many individuals and families. 

What is the next step for Knoxville?

The City has worked with Knoxville-Knox County Planning staff and local stakeholders to develop a proposal for incorporating Opticos’ expertise and creating more opportunity for middle housing in Knoxville. We are seeking the support of Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission and City Council in hopes of new zoning effective January 1, 2024. 

Click here to learn more about the City’s proposal