How Zoning Codes Affect Housing Affordability… A Targeted Way to Provide More Affordable Housing.

Oct 11, 2023
3 min read

Has the City of Fayetteville done enough to create proper zoning codes to accommodate the impending growth? According to a consultant’s report, it doesn’t appear so. Is it too late, or can the city adjust to bring more housing into the city? This begins with proper zoning and the willingness to develop higher-density housing close to infrastructure. Currently, the City of Fayetteville has 93k, with 150k by 2045. Population growth exceeds current housing production 2 to 1.  

Photo Source: City of Fayetteville, Britin Bostick’s Report

According to Bostick, the most cost-effective way to increase housing units is to look toward the rezoning of SF Residential 4 to a higher density zoning. Higher-density zoning, such as RMF-24 housing, allows for the developing of more housing units in a given area. This approach can significantly ease the strain on infrastructure and provide a broader range of housing options to meet the city’s growing demands and reduce costs by approximately $820 Million. 


Fayetteville’s current zoning regulations have roots dating back to 1951, with its last update in 2019. These regulations, referred to as low-density planning, may pose challenges in accommodating the city’s growth. If Fayetteville continues with these regulations, it could face substantial costs, particularly related to infrastructure. Estimates suggest that sticking to the current standards could result in infrastructure expenses exceeding $ 1 billion, per Britin Bostick’s report. 

Fayetteville Infrastructure

Photo Source: City of Fayetteville, Britin Bostick’s Report


Due to proper zoning having a significant impact on reducing land costs for developers and lightening the burden of further infrastructure expenses, we anticipate that the city of Fayetteville may become more open to higher-density projects, especially considering the affordability challenges at hand and Bostick’s report highlighting the necessity for an updated zoning approach. In line with this, as of 2023, per local builders, building a 2,200-square-foot home involves a significant breakdown of costs. Materials and labor constitute the largest share, accounting for approximately 59% of the total cost; land costs, which typically make up around 23% of the budget, include the price of acquiring the plot of land on which the home will be built. Marketing and closing costs, representing about 10%, encompass expenses related to advertising and selling the property and the legal and administrative fees associated with finalizing the sale. Financing, at approximately 7%, design and engineering costs, which make up around 1%, cover the expenses for architectural and engineering.


Northwest Arkansas has seen several other cities take significant strides in updating their master plans. Springdale, in 2022, made a notable move by revising and refreshing its master plan for building, aligning it with the evolving needs and visions of the community. Rogers followed suit in 2023, and their commitment to ongoing updates is evident, reflecting a dedication to staying current with the dynamic demands of a growing region. Bentonville, having its last major update in 2018, has been far from complacent, actively engaging in a continuous process of refining and enhancing its master plan. Bentonville is also in the works of another revision and will be posted on soon.


Affordability is influenced by several factors, including growth, existing infrastructure, and current interest rates. Proper zoning also plays a significant role as a contributing factor for a community to leverage and create affordable housing.


Master Plans:








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