The Power of Small Development

Our work at Close to Home brings us in touch with individuals from many different realms of society. Our clients are individuals who hold a vision of building: a tiny house village in their own community, small structures such as “pop-up” stores, or new focal points for gathering spaces. Or we are in communication with a municipality exploring “tiny” as a solution to a number of different challenges facing their community – homelessness or affordable housing, for example.

Introducing IncDev

As we spent some time looking for additional resources for these clients, we were very pleased to discover the work of the Incremental Development Alliance (IncDev), a non-profit organization founded in order to help individuals answer the question, “How do I build a small building in the place I love?” IncDev describes “small” as buildings that are one to three stories in size that would fit in most any neighborhood in greater Seattle. The emphasis is to create or rehabilitate buildings that are flexible in form and adaptable in use. Instead of being leveraged to the hilt to complete a project at great risk, building in incremental steps means many individual parts can be assembled into an authentic whole with time on your side. Close to Home appreciates that synergy with our work in using “tiny” for “big solutions”.

A Question with a Very Good Answer

In speaking with Executive Director Jim Kumon about why IncDev created a special training course just to focus on this kind of real estate, he responded, “The real estate industry today is dominated by buildings and projects at a massive scale. Regular people can no longer participate because of the specialization of professions needed to navigate a single project to completion. It is nearly impossible to use real estate as a way to build wealth over time. You can’t reach the bottom rung of the ladder to start climbing up. We are trying to demystify what is otherwise seen as a black box activity. It’s fifth grade math, combined with everyday bank loans to create rectangular buildings that people will love for generations. The bar to entry is actually quite low, we are trying to show people there’s a road map to doing projects in your own neighborhood.”

Your Opportunity

It’s with that bit of background that we are especially pleased to announce that the Incremental Development Alliance is presenting their Small Development Seminar in Seattle on May 2nd! Whether you are curious to know if small development might be for you, or if you are in the public or non-profit sectors and are trying to promote affordable housing, economic development or YIMBYism (“Yes In My Back Yard” – real estate projects citizens might actually be for supporting) – there’s something for everyone. Here are the details along with information about registration. Please join us for an informative day!

Develop Small Buildings You Care About

The Small Real Estate Development Seminar is a 5-hour course designed to introduce the principles and implementation mechanisms behind neighborhood scale development projects. The workshop offers specialized training about how to create small projects, like 1-3 story buildings with less than 20 units, which are residential, commercial or mixed in use. The course assumes you know a lot about where you live, but not necessarily much about the real estate process or building development.

Through presentations on finance, design and site selection, a hands-on pro forma exercise, and networking with local like-minded people, this seminar is the first step to becoming a small developer yourself or creating a supportive ecosystem for small development in your city.

The Details

WHAT: Small Real Estate Development Seminar

WHEN: Tuesday, May 2, 2017 10:00 AM-4:30 PM

WHERE: GGLO’s Space at the Steps1301 1st Avenue Seattle, WA, 98101


  • $120 for Early Bird Registration – until April 11
  • $150 for Regular Registration – until April 27
  • $180 for Last Minute Registration

Register today at:


Sessions Will Include:

  • Why Small Development? Who’s Involved?
  • Skills, Business Models and First Projects of a Small Developer
  • How a Building Makes Money
  • The Power of the Incremental Approach
  • Building Types, Financing Tools and Code Hacking
  • What a Pitch Package Looks Like to Ask for Money


Who Should Attend?

  • Individuals in construction, design, planning or real estate looking to either enhance their current practice or make career transition
  • Volunteers or professionals in business associations, main streets associations, historic preservation groups and neighborhood improvement groups looking to champion incremental development in their communities
  • Public sector professionals in city management, economic development, planning, and related agencies who are looking to make it easier for small development projects to occur in their town
  • Professionals in non-profit development organizations, churches, and community development or housing development organizations who need new strategies for small lot development
  • Private banking professionals specializing in mortgages, commercial real estate loans or SBA loans and professionals as at Community Development Financial Institutions and Community Foundations who want to become more effective investors

The workshop is sponsored by the Incremental Development Alliance, a national non-profit that works to build local wealth in neighborhoods through ground-up real estate development. It will feature faculty members John Anderson, Jim Kumon, and Aaron Lubeck. The workshop is hosted with promotional help from Close to Home.


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