Naked City

The Superduplex Struggle

The City Council held its first public hearing last week on superduplexes -- structures big enough to house a dozen or more people but which can legally be built with single-family zoning. City staff listed key concerns including overcrowding, the scale of the buildings, parking and traffic, and the ability of developers to avoid stricter development and code requirements normally required of multifamily zoning. In recent months, superduplexes have caused an uproar in central city neighborhoods, whose citizens have appealed to the council to address the problem with new restrictions.

Not all who spoke opposed superduplexes. A group of college students and recent graduates who are developing a controversial superduplex at 35th and Duval spoke in defense of their project and opposed proposals to reduce the legal number of unrelated adults that can occupy a single living space. "I live in a six-bedroom duplex with 12 bedrooms on the whole site, and the year before that I lived in an eight-bedroom duplex," said one student-developer. "So, coming from experience, I know that this is something that students want."

Of course, what students want frequently goes against what UT-area homeowners want. A 90-day moratorium on superduplex construction approved by council last month ends May 29. The council probably won't begin voting on a superduplex ordinance until early May.

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