Narrow lot, narrow house: How new construction can fit into Duluth’s otherwise empty 25-foot lots – Duluth News Tribune


DULUTH — A plot of land 25 feet wide doesn’t leave much room to build a house, especially when setbacks are applied.

But Duluth is full of such sites, many of which have long stood empty.

With the help of setbacks, a newly built home in West Duluth’s Irving neighborhood aims to be a “prototype” for building new homes in tight urban lots, project designer Benjamin Olsen said.

“We don’t have to think about expanding the city limits,” Olsen said. “We can really densify what already exists and take advantage of the (infrastructure) services already offered.”

The 1,000 square foot home sits on a corner lot at 5810 Redruth St. and is just 12 feet 10 inches wide (without the setbacks it would have only had a buildable area of ​​7 feet wide), but is 40 feet long.

A cramped lot required One Roof Community Housing to get creative in the design and construction of the two-bedroom home at 5810 Redruth Street. The house is now for sale.

Steve Kuchera/Duluth News Tribune

On the ground floor, a living room is at the back and a kitchen at the front, connected by a hallway with cupboards, a shower room, a cupboard and a laundry room to the side.

Upstairs, two bedrooms, one in the front and one in the back of the house, are connected by a hallway, a full bathroom and a laundry room.

Throughout the house, large windows let in natural light and make the house seem bigger than it actually is.

Project manager Josh MacInnes, then with project general contractor 1 LLC, said “every square inch has a purpose” in the home.

“It had a really good, simple Scandinavian feel to it,” MacInnes said. “It was minimalist, but also functional in many ways. It felt like it was new, but it also belonged there at the same time.

New house.
Debbie Freedman, housing development co-ordinator for the Community Land Trust, talks to a visitor in one of the two bedrooms in the house at 5810 Redruth Street on Wednesday.

Steve Kuchera/Duluth News Tribune

This is one of the first projects completed under the City of Duluth’s Rebuild Duluth program. The program, launched in 2019, offered 13 sites for free to developers and others looking to add homes.

Olsen and his business partner Ryan Hughes, through their St. Paul-based company, Office Hughes Olsen, offered three models. They ultimately settled on two projects at two sites offered by Rebuild Duluth and are working with One Roof Community Housing on both.

Their first home, the home in Irving, is now for sale to qualified buyers through One Roof’s land trust program. Tuesday was

listed on Zillow for $160,000

$60,000 less than its estimated market value.

New house.
Jim Philbin

Steve Kuchera/Duluth News Tribune

The total development cost was even higher at around $270,000, said One Roof community land trust manager Jim Philbin.

But Duluth needs more housing. And a new single-family home can cost $500,000, which wouldn’t be possible for low-to-middle-income people served by One Roof, Philbin said.

“Here we get to create new housing…Duluth needs so much more housing than it has now. Anything we can add, willy-nilly, is awesome. It’s such a huge need,” Philbin said.

Theresa Bajda, city planner, said there won’t be another round of rebuilding for Duluth. Instead, available city-owned infill parcels will be made available through the city’s new housing trust fund.

But existing Rebuild Duluth projects are progressing. A Rebuild Duluth project in the Lakeside neighborhood was also recently completed and sold:

two single-family homes on Otsego Street

designed by architect Jay Isenberg.

New house.
The Full Bath at 5810 Redruth St., Duluth.

Steve Kuchera/Duluth News Tribune

And eight other Rebuild Duluth projects are “in progress,” Bajda said.

But high construction costs make it difficult.

Olsen and One Roof hope to use a similar design on land they secured through Rebuild Duluth at 426 N. 52nd Ave. W. in the Spirit Valley neighborhood of West Duluth.

New house.
The lounge at 5801 Redruth St., Duluth.

Steve Kuchera/Duluth News Tribune

But Debbie Freedman, housing development coordinator at One Roof, said the soil on this site could make construction difficult and more expensive.

Still, Olsen feels the Irving House was a successful “proof of concept” and thinks other narrow lots will have homes in the future.

“There’s so much potential on these tight lots,” Olsen said. “There are hundreds of them in the city.”


Comments are closed.