For the first time, Flagstaff residents may have a legal way to live in a tiny house -- that is, after the completion of a new tiny house village by local company Hope Construction.
The company signed a development agreement with the city last month allowing them to build a mobile home park on a currently undeveloped 2.9-acre piece of land at the intersection of Soliere Avenue and Fourth Street.
In a city that has seen a boom in large-scale developments, and in which affordable housing is top of mind for many, Hope Construction owner David Carpenter said he wants to build a community that provides housing for every kind of local resident.
“I want to prove that this is a new paradigm for mobile home parks,” Carpenter said. “Someone’s not going to come along here in 40 years and say, ‘oh, there’s a better use for this, let’s tear all these down.’”
The development will contain 30 units, most of which will be single-wide manufactured homes, Carpenter said.
But because the property neighbors a highway, Carpenter said zoning also allows them to put six spots designated for travel trailers that they can use for tiny homes.
Because they are technically regulated by the state as travel trailers, they have wheels and a hitch as opposed to any permanent foundation and can be a maximum of 399 square feet, although many are even smaller than that, Carpenter said.
These homes have seen growing popularity in recent years, often offering a cheaper and more minimalist alternative to more traditional forms of housing, said Ehren Michaelis, whose Elevation Tiny Homes company builds such trailers.
“When you think about how much space you actually need to live, it’s not that much,” Michaelis said. “It’s kind of the wave for the future.”
But many of those interested in living in such a way have run into the problem of where they are legally allowed to live, Michaelis said. Those who buy one or build one on their own may illegally park them or live out of them in back or side yards, in Flagstaff and across the country.
Carpenter said the six spots will put a dent in solving that problem in Flagstaff.
Of the six lots, Carpenter said two will likely be permanently taken by two tiny houses of his own construction. The other four spots will be open to tiny houses that other people may have built themselves and bring to the land, as long as their home meets the architectural standards and design aesthetics.
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“I feel like if we market this right, somebody might have one of these things in Oregon and be like, ‘wow, there’s a place for me to live in Flagstaff, I’ll move there,’” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said it is still too early to know exactly how much it will cost to live at the park, but a lease for one of the tiny home lots will likely be around $500 to $600 a month.
Carpenter said the cost of tiny homes can also vary depending on how much work someone does themselves. The tiny house Carpenter has already built for the development cost him about $80,000, but he said he has spoken to others who have spent much less.
Like most other kinds of mobile home communities, Carpenter said the single-wide manufactured homes would be for sale. A resident would then lease the land the home sits on.
“I think the total cost is going to feel like what it costs to rent an apartment, except you’re going to get a yard as well. So you’re going to get apartment rent, but you’re also going to get a 2,000-square-foot yard,” Carpenter said.
Nationally, mobile homes make up 70 percent of housing that costs less than $150,000.
No date has been set to start construction on the project, but Carpenter said he hopes it will begin within the next year.
However, the development agreement with the city ties construction to when the city widens Fourth Street to limit the impact of construction in the area.
This means construction on the development will not begin until the city and the Arizona Department of Transportation begin a few neighboring infrastructure projects.
Nonetheless, Carpenter said he hopes the development will mark a turn for tiny houses in Flagstaff and the country.
“I read about it all across the whole country -- there are places where people are trying but the zoning, they’re just up against it. This could be the town where we figure it out,” Carpenter said.