Katrina Cottages, designed as alternatives to the FEMA emergency trailers after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, are getting a second life in a number of projects — the latest example is in Buena Vista, Colorado.
The diminuitive traditional cottages with front porches, which won many design awards, were built to last and fit into diverse neighborhoods. Many were used as emergency shelters and auctioned off. They are proving their versatility and durability.
In Buena Vista, a town 2,195 people (2000 census) in the west-central part of the state, developers Jed Selby and Katie Urban, who are building a 40-acre town extension called South Main, purchased infill land on nearby Cedar Street a few years back. The developers went to Mississippi this past winter and toured hundreds of cottages that were being auctioned, says Dustin Urban, marketing director for the firm.
They picked a dozen to purchase and convert to affordable one- and two-bedroom rental units on 25-foot-wide lots. The one-bedroom units are being refurbished and leased for $550/month, and the two-bedroom units for $800/month, Urban says. "We're replacing the vinyl floors with solid wood flooring and the vinyl tile with porcelain in the bathrooms," he told New Urban Network. "We're also replacing the front doors and trim, have repainted the exteriors and are doing river rock masonry on several of the porch piers. And the foundations are being stuccoed. We're also replacing the plastic porch railings with real wood and reclaimed galvanized metal railing."
Demand is strong for rental housing in Buena Vista following an increase in mining activity in the region.
Dustin Urban writes in his blog:
Beginning summer 2011, The makers of South Main are bringing the Cedar Street Cottages to Buena Vista’s historic downtown. This unique infill project features 12 beautifully-designed and built one and two-bedroom “Katrina Cottages” originally used as emergency housing after hurricane Katrina. With the majority offered for long-term lease, the cottages will offer downtown living within walking distance of schools, restaurants and shops. Located a block from East Main Street, the cottages will support a more prosperous Main Street business environment and will create a beautiful streetscape complete with sidewalks and street trees.
“I am excited to see a block of downtown Buena Vista developed to its full potential,” says Jed Selby, President of South Main Development. “This project will be an example of what is possible on the many vacant lots downtown. No longer do you need to choose between quality, great location and price. You can have it all on Cedar Street if you are willing to live compactly.” The one-bedroom cottages are 400 square feet and the two bedrooms are 728 square feet.
In Seaside, Florida, the famous Panhandle resort town, developer Robert Davis is proposing an academic village near the center of town where students and faculty will stay in Katrina Cottages (see attached image).
According to this news report, cottages were selling from $11,000 to $20,000 in Mississippi early in 2011.