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Davis Workforce Housing (P1)

Historically a timber town that faced decline in the early 20th century, Davis West Virginia is a town that has gradually become a destination for recreational tourism and budding arts-creative community.

Woodlands Development Group, the Tucker County Economic Development Authority, and several other community partners decided to undertake a new workforce housing planning initiative in early 2019 helmed by members of To Be Done Studio.

The loss of college-educated West Virginians to other states, combined with stagnant low wages and limited job opportunities, has created challenges for local businesses wanted to attract a workforce to Davis, WV and Tucker County .

Driven by a 2015 Housing needs assessment developed by the Woodlands Development Group, it was found that employers cannot find enough workers, and the lack of workforce numbers is made worse by the lack of available quality/affordable housing in the county.

With support from town and county governments and WV’s Housing Finance Agency, Woodlands and the Tucker County Economic Development Authority engaged members of To Be Done Studio, and the West Virginia University Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, to re-envision the County’s Business/Industrial Park as a site for workforce housing mixed-use development.

Omar Hakeem leading the group through asset mapping activity.

Community partners discuss goals of the housing project and opportunities for collaboration.

Members of TBD convened with local partners to identify need and priorities, reach a consensus on use options, and develop initial site plans for a new campus of single- and multi-family housing, along with intentionally planned mixed-use development.

The proposed scheme compliments the natural landscape and reflects the creative culture of the neighboring towns.

Site plan for a phased Davis Workforce Housing identifying 3 sites and protected ecological areas.

Innovative tools such as augmented reality were utilized to visualize future development.

Proposed site uses area linked by road an trail networks connecting to the town of Davis, WV.

Adjacent to a delicate, protected ecological zones, extreme care was taken in the site planning.

The site within the city limits of Davis and is within walking distance to Davis’ downtown.

As the development transitions from mostly business to mostly residential in the southwestern portion of the site, three locations stand out as the best location for new workforce housing in Davis.

The variability of site conditions presents an opportunity to provide a variety of workforce typologies for Tucker County.

On the northeastern corner, the site is a mostly treeless, elevated plain in close proximity to the major artery of the region.

Providing a variety of workforce housing options will inevitably attract and retain workforce numbers which will then allow small businesses to prosper.

Moving southwest through the site, numerous wetlands and increasing density of forest (with the periodic pool of water) suggests smaller, more private building types.

Extensive planning went into each of the 3 sites to reduce the amount of earth moving and environmental disruption.

Economic initiatives and projects will not lead to any real sustainable economic development if employers continue to be unable to find close, adequate housing for their employees, or new businesses cannot locate to the area because of lack of housing options.

The people, place, and purpose behind development must always be at the forefront of design, no matter how big or small.