Free Workshop: Revitalizing Village Centers through Housing

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Housing Assistance Corporation is hosting a free virtual workshop, “Revitalizing Village Centers through Housing” to be held via Zoom Tuesday, March 1, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

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Town staff, board and committee members throughout the Cape as well as local advocates are invited to register for this presentation, which will examine revitalizing village centers by encouraging more housing above retails shops and in underutilized commercial spaces.

Housing Assistance feels that “infill development” is an important strategy for adding the rentals needed by the workforce without taking up open space.

“Our region is facing a dual crisis of lack of housing and a need to protect our waters and natural resources,” said Alisa Magnotta, CEO of Housing Assistance Corporation. “Towns need tools to encourage development of housing our workforce can afford, in locations that minimize our impact on the environment.”

One key tool for encouraging appropriate housing development, advocates believe, is allowing multi-family housing in and near village centers and Main Streets, including conversion of previous commercial properties to housing. Additional strategies include technical assistance, building code updates and financial incentives to make smaller-scale, infill housing development financially feasible.

The Cape Cod Commission will open the workshop with an overview of how they defined village centers, main streets and existing commercial zones as a placetype called Community Activity Centers within its Regional Policy Plan. These places share attributes that make them good locations for increased housing because that development would fit within community context and help progress toward multiple RPP goals – economic development, lower environmental footprint, and increased housing. Jacqui Beebe, Town Administrator for Eastham, will share how housing development and economic development goals relate to each other and how the town plans to take a coordinated approach in moving toward those goals.

Featured speakers are Upstairs Downtown, a collaboration between an architect and a planner who have worked with many small towns across America to revitalize their downtowns by building out housing in the upper stories of their existing, mostly commercial buildings. These smaller housing developments add up to big improvements in housing availability and neighborhood vitality.

The Revitalizing Village Centers through Housing workshop is a part of Housing Assistance Corporation’s Cape Housing Institute series, designed to share best practices in housing development with advocates, town staff, board and committee members and housing advocates throughout the region. This series is supported by the Cape and Islands Association of REALTORS® and Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District.