Bentonville infill project exemplifies backyard cottage concept

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 4,274 views 

Community Development Corp. of Bentonville/Bella Vista recently hosted an event to preview the Briartown Cottages project in northern Bentonville. The four accessory cottages are expected to serve as a model for infill development.

Bentonville-based nonprofit developer Community Development Corp. of Bentonville/Bella Vista recently hosted a preview event for the four accessory cottages expected to become a model for infill development. Event attendance was limited because of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

The 0.2-acre Briartown Cottages project in northern Bentonville includes four homes ranging between 550 and 900 square feet. The homes are along Briartown Mews, formerly Monroe Street, and adjacent to Briarwood Apartments, which is owned by the developer.

Casey Kleinhenz, executive director for the developer, explained the concept of building backyard cottages as a non-confrontational way to increase housing density.

“We’ve got a 550-square-foot carpenter Gothic cottage,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a cuter picture for density than that.”

Designs of the homes are available online at The Walton Family Foundation, through its Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, provided a $120,000 grant to complete schematic designs for the project to encourage “additional affordable housing development in Bentonville and downtown markets.”

Those who might look to build a backyard cottage often do so on their property for family or themselves, Kleinhenz noted.

“These plans are a good starting point,” he added. “Hopefully make people feel braver and one step closer toward doing a cottage on their property.”

Residents of Briartown Cottages, which will be leased, must qualify based on income. It must be no more than 60% of area median income or about $36,000 annually for a two-person household, Kleinhenz said. Rent will be set so residents pay no more than 30% of their income on housing.

Homes range between one and two stories, one and two bedrooms and one and two bathrooms. Kleinhenz expects the homes to be leased by Thanksgiving.

Designers are Flintlock and Robert Sharp Architects, both based in Fayetteville, and New York-based Massengale Architecture. The contractor is Bentonville-based Burckart Construction.

In December, Burckart Construction acquired four building permits for the homes with a combined value of $342,820, city records show. Construction cost was about $154 per square foot, Kleinhenz said, adding that the developer owns the land.