Missing Middle – Emerging Trends in Multifamily Development 

Most likely you’ve heard there’s a housing crisis in the United States. In fact, the US needs roughly 3.8 million to 5.5 million housing units. Tacoma, WA has embarked on a sweeping plan to reform residential zoning in the city. The Home in Tacoma project could transform single-family and multifamily zones by allowing more Missing Middle Housing.

You may be asking, what is middle housing? The term was coined by Daniel Parolek in 2010 to mean, “house-scale buildings with multiple units in walkable neighborhoods.” Zoning requirements have made this type of development illegal in most residential areas leading to a gap in housing types between single-family homes and mid- to high-rise apartment buildings, thus the “missing middle term.”

According to the National Association of Home Builders, “We need a greater mix of housing types to meet differing incomes and generational needs. This is where the Missing Middle Housing can change the conversation,” said Debra Bassert.

The City of Tacoma recently voted 6-3 in favor of revising the land use map to include allowable Middle Housing such as duplexes, stacked fourplexes, courtyard cottages, townhouses and multiplexes that are aesthetically designed to blend into traditionally single-family zoned walkable communities. The recommended map will revise all areas zoned single-family and multifamily with single-family redesignated and rezoned to Low-scale Residential or Mid-scale Residential. Multifamily would also be changed to Mid-scale Residential.  If The Home in Tacoma project progresses, overall, the rezone will divide the city into 65% Low-scale Residential and 35% Mid-scale Residential.

The Home in Tacoma proposal for Mid-scale Residential areas would allow three to four stories in height with 15 – 45 dwelling units per acre and a mix of housing types such as small lot houses and triplexes to co-housing, fourplexes and apartments.

AHBL, founded in 1969, is committed to creative design, cost-effective solutions, capturing, and maintaining the sense of community, and integrating our area’s natural and cultural heritage into our ever-changing urban landscape. Providing affordable housing is a major focus of our housing portfolio and we are encouraged by possible solutions like adding the missing middle enhance the lives of community members that live, work, and play in our communities.  

AHBL’s housing development spans the conceptual, predevelopment, and design phases into construction management for all types of housing projects including multifamily, single-family plat development, mixed-use in urban core, and senior living. 



‘Home In Tacoma’ Advances with Recommendation to Eliminate Single-Family Zoning ... 

Graphics #HomeInTacoma Map. 

Missing Middle Housing Caption

Back To News