Source: The Herald Times
[Ed: Danny Weddle is pursuing a M. Arch degree in the Eskenazi School's Miller Architecture Program. Weddle is also a 2009 Eskenazi sculpture BFA, with a second bachelor's degree in marketing from the Kelley School.]
Danny Weddle's three homes came together on Bloomington's near west side Friday when a construction crane placed two tiny houses on the Fairview Street lot where Weddle lives in a 1950 bungalow.
For several years, Weddle has been working with city officials to overcome hurdles and meet requirements to add one of his custom-built tiny houses to his main residence.
The project involved positioning a second tiny house on a permanent foundation behind Weddle's home, where it will anchor a separate residence that the city approved as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with two apartments.
That structure will be built of adobe-style walls made by Terran Robotics, a Bloomington-based company focused on sturdy, energy-efficient and affordable adobe-wall housing.
The goal is to make environmentally friendly, new-home construction common in the Midwest where the ingredients for adobe walls, such as clay-rich mud and straw, are readily available. Terran uses artificial intelligence and robotics, automating parts of the wall-making process to streamline construction.
Weddle's property at 917 N. Fairview St. will have three addresses and a total of eight bedrooms. He said it's important not just for the city, but also the planet, to condense housing and decrease humanity's footprint on the earth.
"The intention is very simple," he said as thick yellow mesh straps were placed beneath the second structure and tightened as the lifting began. "The more people living in the core of a city, the better off you are."
Weddle bought the Fairview Street house in 2020, moving in during the height of the pandemic. His plans were slowed by that and also the process of obtaining permits from city departments and approvals from the local historic preservation commission. It's been, he said, an unexpectedly long road.
Last July, Weddle hosted an open house at the site so neighbors could get a closer look at the tiny house he was attaching to his residence as a master bedroom. He wanted people to understand the changes he proposed.
Weddle had applied for a conditional use variance from the city and what's called an historic certificate of appropriateness; public hearings had been scheduled. He also had applied for permission to build the second structure, the ADU, in the backyard.
Not everyone in the Maple Heights neighborhood was behind the changes underway at 917 N. Fairview St.
Jeff Grubb is among them. His mother has lived in the Maple Street house behind Weddle's more than 60 years; he grew up there. Watching the tiny houses being set in place Friday, he shook his head, calling the project "plum awful" and "an eyesore."
He said construction delays have resulted in the land being muddy and torn up longer than expected. The adjacent alley has been blocked and the asphalt damaged, he said, by vehicles related to the project.
"I've talked to city officials when they come out here and voiced my opinion, but he'd already got the permits," Grubb said. "In April it'll be two years we've been looking at this mess. I don't know that anyone in the city would want to be next to this."
The next phase is creating the adobe walls for the ADU and completing construction, which will take several months. Weddle hopes this marks the start of more condensed housing projects on city lots that now have just one residence.
"This is what's legal now in Bloomington," he said. "And it's unique, beautiful design."