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Not just for New Orleans
August 21, 2012 - Jordan Travis
I'm not the first to suggest this, but cities and villages with a considerable amount of blighted houses should be bulldozing them, much the way Detroit does. There are grants available to destroy these sad, forgotten eyesores, especially important considering the financial state most municipalities are in as of late. Instead of letting the lots sit vacant, communities could offer incentives for anyone looking to build new homes there. Another option would be to move existing homes to the empty lots, although this can be quite an undertaking.
As far as new homes go, it's hard to beat a Katrina Cottage. Designed through the Mississippi Renewal Forum, brought together a month after Hurricane Katrina devastated areas of New Orleans, they were intended to be inexpensive emergency housing. On KatrinaCottageHousing.org, you can see the concept has taken off from the first two designed by Marianne Cusato and Andres Duany.
At roughly $115 per square foot, according to Cusato Cottages, LLC, they're not as cheap as buying a used house. They do have other advantages, though. For one, they look great. Check out the plans at www.cusatocottages.com. My personal favorite is Eric Moser's 697-square-foot 1.5 story, complete with roof shed, two porches and an upstairs loft. It has a footprint of 33.5 feet by 24 feet, a good size for a small city lot. This should leave room for a garage and shed.
Most plans are also expandable. The Cusato-designed 936-square-foot, two-bed one-bath house has a spot where a master suite can be added, giving the house a total of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,200 square feet.
Of course, it'll take more than an incentive to build to draw people to Northeast Michigan, if such a plan were considered here. While there are a few businesses expanding and moving into the area, we need more jobs if we want more residents and less empty, decaying houses.
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