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Infill houses or Tale of a Street

Houses and land become more expensive each year. At some point, in cities with growing economies, it may become very profitable to redevelop certain neighborhoods. Generally, such neighborhoods are characterized by small homes on large lots. In many cases the targeted homes are rundown, but not always. The larger the lot the greater the incentive to buy, tear down and redevelop.

This is the tale of one such street in San Jose where such redevelopment has occured. Usually such redevelopment is an evolutionary change, one building at a time. The change on this street is different, with five new houses under construction on one block at the same time.

The street is in an older neighborhood which almost completely replaced former farms with houses during the first 60 years of the 20th century. The houses were of a variety of styles; including Victorian, Neoclassical, Arts & Crafts, Mission Revival, and the Vernacular (or no style). A common element of all these detached houses was a garage in the rear, behind the home.

The typical infill developer attempts to redevelop by tearing down an existing house and replacing it with a much larger one. If the lot is large enough, and the zoning allows it, more than one house will be built. Almost always, the new home is two story and looks down on its older neighbors.

The redevelopment of detached homes can occur in different ways. The images illustrate some alternative approaches which have occured on our nameless street.

These are not mega-mansions. They are homes aimed for the middleclass market. Or at least that market as defined by the Bay Area economy.

Here the image to the right shows a development which has respected the neighborhood custom of garages in the rear. The developer has managed to fit three houses on a lot which once held one. The facade contains materials found in the neighborhood homes.

Nevertheless, no one would mistake these houses as being anything but modern.