Survey: Anchorage residents want smaller homes closer to downtown
If you've looked at buying a home in Anchorage, but found it too expensive -- or you couldn't find one in the neighborhood you wanted -- you're not alone. A new survey suggests those are common problems, particularly for young people.
A 2018 Anchorage housing survey report by the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) suggests it's a matter of supply and demand. Young people, particularly those under the age of 35, want to live in smaller, single family homes close to downtown. Right now, that kind of housing in short supply, making those limited homes even more expensive.
"As a city we're kind of overbuilt in the large, single family home market," Moira Gallagher, Director of AEDC's Live. Work. Play. initiative, explained in a live interview with KTVA's Daybreak Tuesday. "We don't have the types of housing that's smaller and possibly more affordable as well, for young people, and also for seniors."
Gallagher says wanting to live closer to urban amenities is part of a growing trend nationally.
"They want to be near a grocery store, close to work, church, near a post office. We don't have that in Anchorage. We don't have that downtown live-ability. What was fascinating to me is people answered that question aspirationally, saying 'I would live downtown if there was housing," Gallagher said.
What would it look like if Anchorage did have more housing downtown? Residents surveyed as part of the report said they want small homes, but not necessarily apartments.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said they prefer cottage-style housing, while 32% said they'd opt for rowhouses or townhouses. It's a bit of a break away from the traditional model for mixed-use residential development, which features businesses on the bottom of buildings and condos or apartments on top.
"In Anchorage we've done a couple of non-conventional versions of that. The Rustic Goat is a great example. You have a restaurant on the property, and then there are four town homes also on the lot," Gallagher said.
One of the takeaways from the survey, Gallagher says, are that the city needs to find ways to incentivize new development and revitalization projects.
There is some of that happening already. For example, in 2017, the state legislature designated five Anchorage neighborhoods (Spenard, Fairview, Muldoon, Midtown, and Ship Creek) as "opportunity zones" for developers -- offering a path in which they could defer taxes by choosing to build there.
The program is part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.