As Ardmore continues to experience rapid growth and the city continues to chip away  and tear down the more than 100 condemned buildings throughout the city, empty lots are increasingly becoming available.  
However, empty lots in the middle of neighborhoods can be a blight on cities and many of these lots are not large enough to build a home on under the current Unified Development Codes. This year, city staff plans to rewrite Ardmore’s Unified Development Codes with plans to provide incentives for developers who will fill in these neighborhoods.
“Infill housing helps rebuild neighborhoods and helps revitalize them,” Ardmore Development Services Director Jessica Scott said. “We want to see these old neighborhoods grow.”
According to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency, infill housing “occurs in already built-up areas with existing transportation and utility infrastructure, often repurposing or replacing existing buildings, parking lots, or other impervious areas” and  “adds homes and/or businesses near the center of cities and towns.”
Scott said the city is considering allowing homebuilders to build on smaller lots, which would currently violate city code, with the condition that the homes have five-foot setbacks. These setbacks are designed to place homes far enough apart  that homes have ample space between them.
“I think there’s a market for these smaller homes,” Scott said. “I think our baby boomers are downsizing. These incentives tailor to the specific market of people who want smaller homes.”
But, some homebuilders think these incentives won’t help promote infill housing.
Oklahoma Property Managers, Inc. President, and Milestone Homes, LLC, CEO Lance Windel began constructing infill homes on the southeast side of Ardmore in 2010.  Windel said he saw the need for low-income housing in the area and saw an opportunity to place those homes in already existing neighborhoods.
According to U.S. Census data gathered from 2011-2015 the median rent for Ardmore was $686 a month. The same data show that the median household income was $42,549 and that 17 percent of the people in Ardmore live in poverty, which encompasses approximately 4,268 people.
In 2010, Windel used Oklahoma Affordable Housing Tax Credits to build 45 low-income rentable homes on the southeast side. However, at the time when lots weren’t big enough, Windel bought smaller lots that were next to each other and combined them.
In 2014, Windel built an additional 40 affordable housing rentals on the southeast side — filling in the vacant areas of the neighborhoods using the same process.
“Many of the lots were 25 foot lots,” Windel said. “So at the time I could do a lot combo, but now we can’t do that. Now we have to file a subdivision for one house.”
This process is called dissolving lot lines. At the time, Ardmore would let homebuilders do this by simply getting Scott’s signature, but that is no longer the case. A process that once took 45 minutes now takes around 45 days, Scott said.  She added that her department didn’t do away with the process as a punishment to homebuilders, but because of the legal issues surrounding the dissolution of the lot’s boundaries.
“You used to be able to build across lot lines,” Scott said. “That’s not something we will go back to because of the legal issues surrounding it. When you build across lot lines there becomes no way to measure that five-foot setback because you build over the lot line. A lot of people are bummed about it but the county and state don’t recognize that as a legal lot unless you go through the city commissioners.”
In going through the commission, homebuilders will have to file the lots they want to combine as a subdivision, and name that subdivision, even though only one house will be on the property.
Windel, wants the city of Ardmore to find a way to make the process of lot merging easier, like it once was — something Scott said can’t be done. Windel added that he doesn’t think the city’s incentive for infill housing will attract more developers to Ardmore.
“The house would be smaller than a single wide mobile home,” Windel said. “It doesn’t make sense. I’m all about building homes that make sense. Tiny homes only work when outdoor living is the norm and that doesn’t work here.”
“I’ve looked at tiny homes for affordable housing and it’s just not right,” he added. “People don’t want to spend all their time in 400 square feet.”
Currently, Windel has plans to build 22 low-income townhomes in the northeast near 2nd Avenue and O Street. These homes aren’t infill housing, but Windel said that’s something he may consider doing again if the city offers the right incentives.
Regardless, Scott is confident that whatever incentives the city decides to include, it will help promote housing that will accommodate the needs of the citizens — whether that infill is low-income housing or standard market priced homes.
“The city is very interested in infill housing because it revitalizes and we want people to invest in our community and the homes that are already there,” Scott said.