Groundbreaking For Region’s First Tiny Homes To Take Place This Wednesday

After a year of work, Cincinnati’s first modern iterations of tiny living will soon become a reality when ground is broken on Wednesday, October 14.

The project was made possible through People’s Liberty, which awarded one of its first two Haile Fellowships to Brad Cooper last December. Since that time, Cooper, a professionally trained architect, has been working on the designs for the two homes.

Throughout the process, Cooper says that he has come across various challenges, but some of the most pressing have been related to the economics behind the homes. One of the driving goals of the project has been to create affordable living options for working class individuals. As a result, early on he partnered with the Over-the-Rhine Community Housing to secure the purchase of the two properties on Peete Street for just $1.

One of the homes is being made available to anyone interested in purchasing it, and will be listed at $200,000. This will include solar power generation on-site and a 15-year tax abatement valued at $98,000. The other home will be restricted to those that meet annual income qualifications set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Cincinnati region.

“Hindsight provides some extra knowledge,” Cooper told UrbanCincy. “I would have liked the pricing to be less than what they’re set at now, but I still think it’s a good deal.”

While Cooper believes strongly in the final product, he does wish that some things were done differently in order to help reduce costs even more. In particular, that would have included completing the geotechnical investigation earlier and selecting a general contractor earlier in the process.

One of the changes made to the design for the income restricted home was the removal of the parking space. When the initial designs were unveiled on UrbanCincy, the incorporation of parking spaces for both homes was a major sticking point for many readers.

“Most people that have been to the site want a parking space and the surrounding neighbors agree,” Cooper explained. “It could be something a homeowner says they don’t want and we’ll have that conversation.”

Another criticism of the project has been that the two tiny homes might not be appropriate for a neighborhood like Over-the-Rhine that is populated with larger, multi-family buildings. Cooper says that he is looking forward to doing another project that is multi-family somewhere else in the neighborhood.

“Over-the-Rhine is ideal for micro living because anything you need is a short walk away, but that’s not exclusive to OTR,” said Cooper. “Cincinnati has some great inner ring neighborhoods.”

While higher densities may be the future for micro-apartments in Cincinnati, the two tiny homes on Peete Street – the first of their kind in Cincinnati – are something Cooper and People’s Liberty say they are proud to have introduced to the region.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work on a development project totally different than what’s being built today in Cincinnati,” Cooper said. “People’s Liberty offers the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and dream big by diving deep into a challenge without requiring traditional performance metrics or revenue generation.”

The groundbreaking for the two tiny homes will take place at 5:30pm at 144 Peete Street this Wednesday. The free event is open to the public, and will include light food, cider and complimentary polaroid photos of guests digging on-site.

Based on early interest, Cooper says that he expects to close on the first home by the end of the month. Those that are interested in purchasing either of the homes can contact him at BradCooper@peoplesliberty.org, or submit an inquiry on the project’s website.

  • KeepReal

    $200,000 for a 360 sf house (50 sf of which is taken up by vertical circulation) would be more expensive than even California or Hawaii averages. In a state with some of the cheapest housing in the nation, I don’t see how this would be a wise purchase.

  • Micky Humler

    $200,000 is way too steep for a house that size, even in O-t-R.

    • ED

      “This will include…a 15-year tax abatement valued at $98,000.”

  • ED

    Reminds me of a carriage house without the garage- I could see this eventually being a way of injecting density and affordability into the more desirable neighborhoods by avoiding the typical NIMBY anti-multifamily, property value and “character” arguments. Lots of small side and rear yard areas where you could fit one of these in without disrupting much.

    • KeepReal

      Based on the rendering it strikes me as quite out of scale and out of context. Low cornice line and vast side yard are the two main anomalies. Renderings distort and I don’t know the street very well so that assessment could be wrong. I know Clifton better, so yes, this kind of structure may make more sense in an area like that.

    • ED

      That’s why I think in a prime real estate area this would do well as an ADU.
      The northern liberties hillside is a fine context for this with all the greenspace.

  • If they end up looking like the rendering they are going to be cool as hell!

  • Jesse

    The price seems fair to me. If you are a single person with a middle class income there are not many options in OTR. I’m the kind of person who puts location over most other considerations when evaluating housing options. I’d consider this if i didn’t have a family.

    How would the mortgage compare to rent for a decent one bedroom apartment in the same area? With this house you get out of renting, you get a new building with modern features, you don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors in a creaky old building and there is free parking. How many years of not paying for unlimited access parking at OTR rates before that saving becomes a significant offset to the cost of the house?

    Personally, Id go for more house and give up the parking but it sounds like the developers did their homework on that issue.

    • Ben Davis

      Sooo…my understanding of the purpose of having a tiny house is to reduce costs. How does this achieve that? This is the same price as some one bedroom condos elsewhere in the neighborhood with double the sq footage, and definitely not affordable to the average person or family.

    • I think reducing costs is one objective, but another is to simplify and streamline one’s life.

      With that said, I like the idea of micro-apartments more than tiny homes. By doing individual homes this way you spend much of the space and money on systems that could otherwise be shared in a multi-unit structure. For the record, I live in a 240-square-foot apartment.

  • Steph Ress

    Are there any closets?

    • Bradley Cooper

      No predetermined closet, but there’s a location it could be by the bathroom wall. With all of the wardrobe furniture options available, it made sense not to include this. It’d be an easy add at any point during or before construction.

  • cincydt

    Wonder how the banks would handle financing on something like this? When I bought my last building in OTR which is fairly close to the location of these the average price per sq ft on the comps was $88. And that was for finished buildings. Using that number the bank would only value these buildings at about $32,000. Even at $300 a sq ft you would never get to the $200,000 selling price for only 360 sq ft. You would almost have to be a cash buyer or put down a huge down payment. Just doesn’t seem practical as an affordable housing solution.

    • That’s something Bradley has been working on over the past year.

  • Frankie Rizzo

    Way to expensive for the size and neighborhood…….$40k maybe…200k….no thank you.

  • Mark Christol

    Just visited someone in Northside who was building, essentially, a tiny house for her mother in the side yard.

    • Heather Skerl Spegal

      That is the true idea of the tiny house movement!

  • matimal

    But will it actually sell at $200,000?

  • Gail Lunsford

    This is something I have been looking into. Very interested in the tiny house movement. I do think the price is very High. Can’t wait to see this finished.

  • Mark Christol

    Cooper presents to the Neighborhood Committee 3/21/16
    https://archive.org/details/15160321NC

  • Amy Beauchamp

    Have these houses already been purchased? Brad, do you have any other sites you are looking at to build?