PANAMA CITY — The designer for a housing development in Glenwood stands behind her design, although some people see it as reminiscent of “shotgun” houses — a structural style indicative of impoverished families in the Black South.
“When we build our design … there’s a responsibility of that to offer something that will enhance. And that is absolutely our goal. Our goal is not to do something that people drive by and say ‘these are those homes,’” said Marianne Cusato, partner with Cypress Community Development Corporation.
Noting the homes were “over-engineered” by including impact windows and other safety features, Cusato added, “The reality of all of that together is the footprint gets smaller to achieve the other things.”
The company has constructed four two-bedroom, two-bathroom houses that are less than 1,000 square feet each on Wilson Avenue. In the front half of the homes, the open floor plan includes a small living room, dining room space and a full kitchen. A hallway running on the side of the house leads to the first bedroom and a full bathroom; then to the master bathroom and a master bedroom at the end. A side door is located where the hallway begins, which leads to the carport. The 12-foot ceilings are vaulted at the entrance and in the rooms. Windows provide natural light throughout.
There are no closets inside the rooms, nor in the hallway. Instead, an IKEA cabinet will be bolted down near the front door entrance. Attic space also is available for storage.
“The benefit of that is that we’re not coming into a room more. It’s the same amount of storage — it actually includes a drawer … we’re giving you a shelf, a rod and a drawer,” Cusato said.
At a recent Panama City City Commission meeting, residents and others connected to the Glenwood neighborhood confronted commissioners with concerns about the homes’ design. On social media, several members of the Minority PC group have updated their profile pictures with a photo of an old shotgun home next to that of one of the new Wilson Avenue cottages. The photo comes with a message: This is not #affordablehousing, this is #oppressivehousing.
“Home ownership represents progress. No one wants to buy anything that looks like when they were poor,” Alesia Glass-Rhodes, founder and president of Minority PC said in a previous interview. She also said the organization plans to create a committee that will provide oversight to housing developments entering into the area.
A price range for the homes was not immediately available. Cusato said it will be affordable to existing residents, and said the homes will go online this summer.
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