SUPPLY AND DEMAND

WaPo reports a strange trend in D.C. Metro area housing:

The proposed Giles Glenn subdivision fits together with the precision, if not the logic, of a jigsaw puzzle.

The 10-acre site in southern Fairfax County has been carved up carefully to accommodate eight single-family homes. But because not all of the land is developable, and because planners wanted to make the most of what they had while meeting suburban standards for lot size and width, a peculiar geometry has taken shape.

The front yards of Giles Glenn are in one place, while the back yards lie 200 feet or more away, connected to the former by a thread of land in some cases. Similarly, some of the side yards are another 200 feet or so to the west.

The three-headed lots have raised eyebrows in some quarters and, in others, admiration over the planners’ creativity.

“To be honest, this is probably the worst example I’ve ever seen,” said Lorrie E. Kirst, a deputy zoning administrator for the county.

But strange as they seem, the lots do operate under a certain suburban-style common sense: With land scarce and prices continuing to soar — a single acre can fetch $250,000 or more — developers are going to unusual lengths to squeeze the most they can out of any given parcel while still complying with the thicket of local rules governing acreage, street frontage and lot widths.

Giles Glenn’s planners could have settled for one or two fewer lots to reduce, if not eliminate, the scattershot appearance, but economically that made no sense.

“Why would you give away a quarter of a million dollars?” asked Matt Marshall of Land Design Consultants in Manassas, which drew the plan. “We’re not dummies. We’re trying to maximize dollars.”

One has to admire the creativity, if nothing else.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Wizbang says:

    Crazy Lots
    James Joyner notes an article in today’s Washington Post that highlights the lengths that developers will go to subdivide lots while meeting “the code”. You know whose fault this is: The lawyers. For some reason “the code” is a magic…