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Missing Middle Housing Scan – City of Knoxville


The study explores the idea of ‘missing middle housing,’ which refers to house-scale buildings with multiple units in walkable neighborhoods, highlighting building types that were common 100 years ago but have since become obscure in new development as zoning laws have changed.

In early 2022, the Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS® began work with the City of Knoxville and Knoxville-Knox County Planning to explore new housing options and analyze the zoning code for ways to support them.

The project, titled Missing Middle Housing Scan, was conducted through a collaborative effort from consultant Opticos, Planning, City of Knoxville, and Knoxville Area Association of Realtors®. Opticos is an innovator of the missing middle concept, and their project leadership was invaluable.

Opticos promotes the use of several missing middle housing types:

  • Duplexes (side-by-side and stacked)
  • Cottage courts
  • Triplexes and fourplexes
  • Multiplexes (small and large mansion apartments)
  • Neighborhood courtyards
  • Townhouses (small and large)

The report identifies RN-2, RN-3, RN-4, and RN-5 as the zoning districts that could best accommodate these future development types in the city. It goes on to recognize local neighborhoods that are appropriate for missing middle housing because they are in a short walking distance of services, food, shopping, parks, schools, or transit. The report also provides a thorough analysis of the barriers to missing middle housing within the city and identifies next steps to better accommodate more of these housing types in the future.