Tiny duplexes new to Janesville

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Jake Magee
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

JANESVILLE—When Jose Coria saw a Craigslist advertisement for new rental duplexes being built along Beloit Avenue, he jumped at the chance to nab one.

"It popped up, and I got it because I knew it was going to be hard to get something else," Coria said.

The homes aren't typical duplexes, which usually include basements and central heating. The 850-square-foot unit Coria hopes to move into next month was built on an insulated concrete slab that emits heat, said Tom Clippert, Janesville's building and development services manager.

"It radiates heat from the floor, so the floor is your heater," Coria said.

The duplexes are well insulated, so the heated floor is all that's necessary to keep the homes warm. One downside is the duplexes are so airtight that cooling them if they get too warm can take a while, Coria said.

"It's basically like you're living in a refrigerator," he said.

In warmer months, a single window air conditioner is enough to keep the units cool, Coria said.

Clippert said the residences are "normal duplexes," but he agreed they're the first homes of their kind built in Janesville.

The 1,700-square-foot duplexes are rectangular buildings built perpendicular to Beloit Avenue between Elliott Street and Freedom Lane. Each duplex has one unit facing the street and one unit in the back. They're built on concrete slabs instead of with basements, but that's not unheard of in the Midwest, Clippert said.

"This is nothing new," he said.

The duplexes are adjacent to a trailer park, but Clippert said there's no comparing the structures despite their similar appearance. For one, trailer homes are mobile whereas these duplexes aren't, Clippert said.

Two of the duplexes are almost complete. Two have yet to be built. Each building cost $85,000 to build, Clippert said.

Coria, who works in the apartment industry in Madison, said finding a place to rent in Janesville is difficult.

"It is really hard because they popped (up on Craigslist) and they were gone overnight. There's a lot of people renting or something," he said.

"These places, it's obvious they're not even done, and they're all rented out, as far as I've heard. The … units they're going to construct next, they're gonna fly like pancakes. It's just the way it is," Coria said.

With a 1 percent rental vacancy rate, Janesville has been vying for new apartment developments for months. With only eight units, the duplexes are "a minor incremental step in filling the void in the community," Economic Development Director Gale Price wrote in an email to The Gazette.

Coria, like many others, prefers to live in Janesville, where rent is cheaper, and commute to Madison.

Coria owns a house in Janesville but wants to sell it and temporarily live in one of the Beloit Avenue duplexes while looking for a new house with a bigger garage and more space. Each duplex unit has its own garage, which Coria plans to use for his hobby -- fixing motorcycles.

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