top50stl economic development idea of the week: Tiny Homes in Valley Park

In order to introduce my economic development idea of the week, I’d like to present three separate ideas and blend them into one. First, I’ve been fascinated over the past few years with the Tiny Homes movement. If you’re not familiar with it, basically people are building small houses on trailers in order to cut down on the costs of owning and maintaining a much bigger home. It’s essentially a mobile home, but instead of the standard single or a doublewide, Tiny Homes are designed with a little more charm. The movement has caught on with young singles and couples that don’t want to be tied down by a large mortgage payment-or a permanent location for that matter-as well as older people that may be finished raising a family or widowed and no longer need the space they once did. It allows both groups to pay cash for their homes and maximize the rest of their cash flow towards living the life they choose.

I remember a story on 60 minutes about co-housing in Denmark. Basically, groups of people have decided to establish a community of like-minded friends to be their neighbors. Whether it’s families, single parents, elderly, or any combination thereof, people decide to occupy their own spaces but also share many others. They not only share spaces, but responsibilities, chores, dinners, events, etc. Elderly residents may pitch in to help single parents watch their children; young kids help prepare meals and wash dishes. Basically, everyone lends a helping hand and looks out for one another; perhaps the definition of community.

The town of Valley Park has been in the news recently due to flooding in the area. Luckily, the town center where city hall and a number of homes and business are located escaped the water, but the threat of flooding always remains. I believe development in the town center is sluggish due to the constant threat that water may invade. But, I also see a lot of potential for development. The layout is attractive and when I drive through the main thoroughfare, I get the same feeling I had just before Maplewood had its reemergence.

So, my idea is to combine Tiny Homes, co-housing and Valley Park into a new type of community. The city of Valley Park could pass ordinances to encourage the development of Tiny Homes. The town could make a plea to attract both young and old to live together in order to watch out for one another. Community spaces like kitchens, play areas and co-working offices could be constructed to help share resources. And the threat of flooding could be somewhat mitigated by the fact that many homeowners could relocate their properties in case of emergency. And, for some reason, I envision people riding around in golf carts too.

I’ve shared this idea with a member of the Valley Park Business Development group, but I’d like to see if there is more interest from the Valley Park community. If you know anyone that may want to discuss this idea further, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

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