Is Flexible Housing Coming to the District?

by Lark Turner

Is Flexible Housing Coming to the District?: Figure 1
A flexible development in Canada. Design by Group2 Architecture Interior Design.

At an architecture-themed mayoral debate Tuesday night, Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells touted a new form of flexible housing that he claims could be a solution for many DC families fleeing to the suburbs when they start having children.

The concept, which Wells referred to as flex multifamily housing, would create movable units within a development that could be connected laterally or vertically to expand, and later contract, based on a family’s needs.

Wells also hinted that a project of this nature could be in the cards for DC.

“I think we’re close to where at least one’s going to be proposed,” he told the audience at the AIA|DC-hosted forum.

A similar concept, called FlexHousing, was developed and trademarked by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation last year. One such multifamily flex development is currently being built in the city of Edmonton. Here’s a description of that project from its developer, redbrick:

“There will be 4 barrier free units on the main floor, and 10 units per floor on the upper three floors. Of these 34 units, 14 will be two bedroom plus flex-room suites, 14 will be one bedroom plus flex-room suites, and 6 will be studio suites. Our team has spent many hours going back and forth to come up with thoughtful suite layouts that would work for families, couples, or singles. The flex-rooms provide an opportunity for adaptable spaces that meet the changing needs of the residents.”

UrbanTurf has reached out to Tommy Wells for comment on the proposed DC project, and is awaiting a response.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_new_type_of_flexible_housing_could_be_coming_to_the_district/8141


  1. Robert Wulff said at 9:58 pm on Wednesday February 19, 2014:
    I must be missing something. Why does Wells think the ability to add or subtract a bedroom will keep a family in DC if they decide to move to the suburbs because they don't want to send their children to a DC school. They aren't leaving DC because they can't find housing with enough bedrooms for their children.
  1. Zesty said at 10:07 pm on Wednesday February 19, 2014:
    Wulff is right on the money, Wells either hit his head or he's looking for publicity. Fix the schools and you'll get a larger number of families staying in DC.
  1. Lark Turner said at 11:36 pm on Wednesday February 19, 2014:
    Hi there Robert and Zesty, To clarify, the debate was about architectural fixes, and Wells suggested flexible housing as one of many ways to address movement to the suburbs. As I recall, all the candidates acknowledged the need to improve schools. Hope that's helpful — Lark
  1. Elizabeth Teferra said at 4:58 pm on Tuesday February 25, 2014:
    Housing is indeed a very important issue. Older residents who have lived on the Hill would love choices on one level and flexible as well. It's close to modular housing and the idea of having choices as in the Cohousing Movement. If it ever becomes a reality and the location is right I would consider it. Schools are also a major issue but for a younger constituency. I already did that for 2 kids growing up right here on Capitol Hill. So it's a choice with many constituencies. Long time Cap Hill resident
  1. Centro Square Condos said at 6:31 am on Thursday May 15, 2014:
    Really what a useful blog for Real estate, I got lots of information here about Housing.....

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