Tiny houses might be coming to a St. Petersburg neighborhood

Published July 9 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — In the past few years, the Tampa Bay area has seen a blockbuster number of big new houses.

Now, it could get its first tiny-house community.

St. Petersburg’s Development Review Commission will consider plans Wednesday for six teensy houses in the city’s Midtown area. Each would be no more than 700 square feet but would include two bedrooms and a porch.

"A lot of people don’t need much to be comfortable and happy,’’ said Pedro Medina, who is developing the project in conjunction with property owner Ashok Shah. "There is something efficient, sexy and modern about tiny houses.’’

RELATED: Tiny houses seen at the Tiny Home Festival in St. Pete.

Popularized by TV shows like Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunter, the tiny-house movement gained steam after the 2008 financial crash as people began looking for affordable, environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional homes. Many tiny houses are built on wheels so they can transported, but those in St. Petersburg would be stationary.

Two would face 22nd Avenue S, two would face 13th Street and the remaining two would be accessible via a common parking area. Each would have a kitchen, bathroom, living area and bedroom on the ground level as well as a loft- style second bedroom.

Medina said he expects to build the houses for about $30,000 each, holding down costs by using wood and other materials salvaged from construction sites. The sale price has not been set, he said.

The staff of the city’s Planning and Economic Development Department recommends approval of the project, which lies within a blighted area targeted for revitalization. The tiny houses would replace a nearly century-old apartment building on the site that has been condemned and will be demolished.

City staffers "were so tired of that eyesore they’re ecstatic someone is building,’’ Medina said. "I expected to be met with much more opposition, but they are actually looking forward to having standards made (for tiny houses). It’s kind of like a gray area now.’’

A real estate investor, Shah bought the half-acre site in 2006 for $235,400. Medina, who manages Shah’s properties and lives in one of them that he renovated, convinced the investor that tiny houses would a good fit for the Midtown site.

"I see it as appealing to millennials,’’ said Medina, a millennial himself at 31. "Due to the exorbitant cost, my generation isn’t buying as many homes. With the advent of tiny houses, it places the price at that of a new car. Now even students in college will be able to purchase a home and accrue equity much earlier in their lifetime.’’

If the current project succeeds, Medina would like to develop a one-bedroom house that would sell for about $15,000 and also create a template for tiny-home communities.

RELATED: Tampa micro housing advocates find big demand for living small.

Exhibits of tiny houses have drawn enthusiastic crowds in the Tampa Bay area. Last year, a Tampa company created a buzz when it proposed reconfiguring a downtown building into 120 tiny or "micro’’ apartments. Parking issues killed that idea, and the company decided to do 48 larger apartments. Construction is expected to start this summer.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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