Resident has big plans for tiny houses

By The Lawton Constitution

MEDICINE PARK – A new style of cheaper living is coming to the cobblestone community.

Noel Alsbrook, longtime Medicine Park resident, plans to develop a 10-unit multifamily dwelling called Inn-Habit using repurposed rail cars. The tiny town homes will each be about 160 square feet and will be big enough either for single individuals or couples who don’t have many belongings. Each home will be about 8½ feet wide by about 20 feet long. That might not sound like a whole lot of space, by tiny homes have gained popularity in recent years and Alsbrook said Medicine Park is the perfect environment for such a development.

“Medicine Park has a need for cost efficient affordable housing,” he said. “There are a lot of people who would like to live there, but have been pushed out by the higher prices. This is their chance.”

The idea of living inside an old rail car might not be appealing on the surface, but Alsbrook said people should just picture the rail car itself as the frame of the home. Medicine Park ordinances don’t allow for any visible metal exteriors, so each home will be covered with materials that will make it fit in right alongside the other unique homes of the community.

“We’re going to incorporate the Medicine Park look with wooden faces, pillars and decor with cobblestones included,” Alsbrook said. “The goal is to fit Medicine Park history with modern interpretation.”

Inside will be equally renovated with quality materials that will make it look like any other traditional home. The designs of each home will focus on minimalism, due to the obvious space restraints, but Alsbrook promises there will be no shortcuts.

“It’s going to be off the charts, how awesome it will look once we’re done,” he said. “Because they’re tiny houses, a lot of the furnishings will be built into the home. A lot will be built to fit in a certain way.”

The concept of a tiny home has been a passion of Alsbrook’s for nearly a decade. At the height of the oil boom about nine years ago, he read about the housing shortage in the Dakotas. There were so many oilfield employees working the fields that every hotel was booked up and many were living in their vehicles. A Renaissance man of talents and skills, Alsbrook contemplated how he could “tap into” the craze. Then he discovered the tiny home.

“I started researching and I figured I could make a tiny home on wheels,” Alsbrook said. “I could make one, drive it up there and set it up, sell it to someone and then come back and make another and take that one up.”

It was a great idea – until oil prices crashed and all of the workers were laid off. But the idea stuck with Alsbrook and he was determined to make it work somehow. Tiny homes have continued to grow in popularity in the years since and the idea fit Medicine Park like a glove. When some land opened on Observation Road, he decided to jump at the opportunity to develop it.

“The residents will have a beautiful view of the mountains from there,” Alsbrook said. “It’s providing a service for the community and one we think will go over well.”

Alsbrook hasn’t finalized the monthly rental price yet, but he’s focusing on between $600-675 with all bills paid. He plans to offer yearly leases to ensure the houses remain long-term living options, though he will offer military shorter lease terms for the extent of their deployment, as needed. Alsbrook said his entire focus has been to ensure the homes are affordable for people to live in, as long as they are willing to adopt a lifestyle of lesser means.

“This is really an attempt to provide affordable homes for college students or housing for people who don’t have or want a whole lot, but want to come out here to Medicine Park,’ he said. “This is for someone who wants to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, not someone with a large Versace wardrobe.”

Work will soon begin on the project and Alsbrook hopes to have the dwellings available for rent by next year. For Alsbrook, this is a project nearly a decade in the making.

“I started looking at this nine years ago and I’ve done research for the past five years,” he said. “I think this is going to be something nice and new and very cool for Medicine Park.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.