Cottage Courts - North of Glenwood South

For about 5 years Raleigh has had a Cottage Court housing development in the UDO as a possible development. However, only one has been attempted in the Brooklyn District above Glenwood South.
Check them out

Because only one has been built, the City Council is picking up the topic to see if we can improve on that. Here is an article on cottage courts in Raleigh with more info.


I am very interested to see where this goes. From the Russ Stephenson Facebook post:

“Committee members Russ Stephenson (chair), Nancy McFarlane and Nicole Stewart reached unanimous consensus on a series of recommended rule changes designed to promote additional density, affordability, compatibility and marketability of Cottage Courts, while reducing required parking for smaller units. These recommended changes will be presented to Council for approval next Tuesday, March 5th.”

Does anyone know what the recommended rule changes are and how they went over when presented to council on Tuesday?

I live on 3 acres just south of the beltline about 3 miles from downtown. If favorable rule changes were passed I would seriously consider developing our property into a cottage court.


Your lot seems like a perfect candidate. Gentle infill at the general edge of the central part of town.

The part that I am really not clear on is the density bonus. For these to work we will really need to give anyone building one an incentive to not just build the same number of regular larger single family homes. The changes that are clear to me are, reducing parking requirements from 2 to 1 spots per home and making it so that the home can own the land under it vs a total condo set up. Apparently you need to be able to have an actual property around each home for that to work, and that is not a thing in the current zoning.

During council there really was not a lot of conversation. Councilor Crowder seemed confused that the suggestion for 1200 sqft maximum was an increase in size (the only ones build under current regs are 2200sqft) so she brought up her concern that there would need to be parking if they were big. I think she was confused and it confused me to listen to. Other than that there was not much discussion, and it was sent to planning committee.

From this it looks like a 50% density bonus is an “option”, but I am thinking this will really get hashed out in the planning commission. I hope this is something people actually get behind, but you never know with housing in Raleigh.$file/20190226PLANHealthyNeighborhoods.pdf

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Thanks for sharing this info. We’re still several years away from pursuing such a project, which is probably good since it’ll take council at least that long to figure this out, but this gives me a lot to think about.

Building an ADU doesn’t really make economic sense for us, but doing a cottage court could give us some nice options.

What does 50% density bonus mean? My understanding is that it allows you to to build 50% more units than an area’s current zoning, is that correct? I believe we’re currently zoned R-4, so that density bonus would allow 6 units/acre?

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Oh no…I think your hopes may be dashed… You should submit for an R-6 rezoning :slight_smile: The UDO currently does not allow them in R-4. To the best of my knowledge you cannot do a duplex, or anything other than a SFH on R-4. FYI for anyone reading, R-4 stands for 4 homes per acre.

Here is the current requirements in the UDO


Yeah, I saw that somewhere. By the time we’d be ready to pursue this there may be a completely different city council. Perhaps they’ll put some action behind their words about how important affordable housing and the missing middle are and I’ll be able to get rezoned to R-6. Until then I’ll be keeping an eye on how the proposed rule changes develop.


If I owned some acres that close to downtown, I’d sit on it like a retirement account.


I’ve been sitting on it for almost 20 years and am not that far from retirement. #geezer.


I’m in the same boat, but without a holding of family land. :cry:


In Imaps you can select properties and see the mailing address of the owner, which can be kind of fun to investigate. A guy on twitter has been talking about how the block he lives on in South Park and the block north of him have 40 lots that are either vacant or derelict houses that the owners are essentially just using as a land investment. He is an electrician who was raised in the area and actually moved to south park and built a home within the NCOD specs. It is really interesting to see that dynamic. He is doing what anyone would actually want a new landowner in their neighborhood to do, in building and living there. But, now he pays taxes on the land and the house. Three doors down, someone from north of 540 bought a lot for $30,000 and pays ~$65 a year in taxes to essentially land speculate. If you are trying to run a city you want the first guy who moves in. If you are trying to be as smart as you can be with your land investment the second guy is probably smarter. It is interesting to see stuff like that play out. It is also interesting to google street view the giant north Raleigh home of the dude speculating on South Park lots.

We bought our property through a tax foreclosure auction - I think in 2000. It was a live, in-person auction and when I said $30,000 none of the other bidders raised so we won. Our competition included several builder/developer types who had much deeper pockets than us. But I think they lost interest because of the R-4 zoning and the fact that a creek/floodplain runs through part of the property. That zoning/topography combination probably squeezed the profit margins enough to make them move on to other opportunities. If cottage courts were allowed then and there were incentives in place to build them we probably wouldn’t have won that auction.

I checked imaps and we have pockets of R-6 & R-10 zoning less than 1000 feet from us. So maybe a rezoning to R-6 wouldn’t be out of the question.


Wow, yeah at $30,000 for 3 acres there must have been something that turned others away. Was there a house on the property?

From what I can tell, if you can convince 6 or 8 of your neighbors to go to a CAC meeting and vote for you, then a change from R-4 to R-6 or R-10 could probably get approved there. Then in front of council it would be interesting if they would reject the CAC vote. As you alluded to though. Never know with this council.

Ha, I found you on Imaps. The lot across from you is kind of in the same boat. The whole Carolina Pines area has a bit of a connection jumble. Lots of people living 200 feet away needing to essentially drive 8 blocks around the neighborhood to get to each other because of all the dead end streets.

I bet you would have road access problems putting anymore “traditional” SFH type houses in there, but the cottage court with a type of alleyway looping back to and from parking in the back might work. That stream essentially makes 1/3 of your property unbuildable.

The property was vacant, wooded land. We built a house about 3 years after the land purchase. The lot across from us is bigger but has a much higher % of flood plain. Put the topo layer on in imaps and you’ll see what I mean.

I was thinking the same about the road access difficulty of building more traditional SFH’s. But as you suggest a looping alleyway going behind houses that were built roughly along the perimeter of the buildable area might work.

The benefit to us would be to get some of the value out of the land without having to move. We could have our house moved more to the perimeter of the land and have several others (5,6,7? ) built to form the cottage court. Boom, “instant” community. It’s sometimes nice to have the privacy we do but it’s also socially isolating.


That sounds like a case study on the positive benefits of allowing Cottage Courts. If you ever to work on that zoning I would love to come be a public community member in support. I also know two or three people who live in your CAC who I could get to come support any rezoning vote.


Cool - I’ll definitely take you up on that if we get to that point. For now I’ll keep paying attention to discussions around the regulations. I may even reach out to the Healthy Neighborhoods committee to express my interest and extend an invitation to them to visit our property so they be thinking about a real world scenario as they formulate the new regs.


Good news and bad news…

Council passed the proposed cottage court text amendment on Tuesday!

But, at the last minute, struck the language that would have allowed cottage courts in R-2 and R-4. Even for sites like @Brian’s, which should have some dimensional relief so that any houses can be kept off slopes and floodplains. (Though for Brian in particular: you could conceivably ask for R-6, which permits 9 cottages per acre. The Comp Plan FLUM designation is LDR, which covers both R-4 and R-6.)

But back to good news: a new council is being seated, and the few councilmembers (you know who) who freaked out at the prospect of having adorable little houses in R-4 areas will not be returning. So yes, please bring it up with the new council!


Great first post! We need your kind helping us track projects for the DTR CAC! :grin:

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First off - welcome to the forum.

Thanks for keeping us up to date on these developments. I find it really tough to keep track of all the items going before council, commissions, committees, etc. It’s great to have all the eyes of this community keeping tabs and sharing info.

Can you give us an idea of the text amendment that was approved?

I’m still unsure about what we’ll end up doing. Some days I think an ADU or two might be the better option. Other days I think maybe we should just sell and move downtown. Doing nothing is also an option.


No need to bring up the cottage court issues with the new council. They addressed it at yesterday’s meeting and started the text change process to allow cottage courts in R-2 and R-4 by right! They also want to increase the maximum number of units from 15 to 30. I believe next step is that this change goes to Planning Commission. But as the mayor said yesterday, they shouldn’t need a lot of time to review these changes since they’ve already seen them. Believe there will also be a public hearing on this sometime after it comes back to Council.