Federal Way’s cottage housing neighborhood wins Community of the Year award

Mirror Lake Highlands demonstration project is the first sustainable cottage housing project of its kind in Federal Way.

William and Dawn McCaffrey of The Nexus Studio holding their New Home Council Tribute awards. Courtesy photo

William and Dawn McCaffrey of The Nexus Studio holding their New Home Council Tribute awards. Courtesy photo

Mirror Lake Highland Cottage Housing Demonstration Project in Federal Way was recently named the regional Community of the Year.

Awarded by at the New Home Council’s 12th Annual Tribute Awards on Nov. 11, the Mirror Lake Highland project also won awards for the Best Home Design under 2,300 square feet and Best Virtual Sales Experience for its marketing virtual tours created by Joseph Riehl.

“It actually was pretty emotional,” said owner William McCaffrey of the awards. “Especially because we were a very small builder among the giants.”

The 16-home pocket neighborhood project, located at 604 SW 312 St. in Federal Way, was developed by The Nexus Studio and opened in 2018. The Nexus Studio is a two-person design-build developer company run by William and Dawn McCaffrey.

The husband and wife duo serve as the land planner, architect, builder and real estate agent of the cottage neighborhood.

In 2007, William McCaffrey won a design competition sponsored by the City of Federal Way to showcase sustainable design and cottage housing options, giving him the green light to bring the Mirror Lake Highlands to life.

The final two homes are nearing completion while the other 14 finished homes have sold for about $480,000 to $550,000, he said.

McCaffrey credits the city’s cottage housing ordinance for the neighborhood’s success, along with their own efforts for over a decade.

“With the exception of the civil engineering, we did everything,” he said. “It was quite rewarding to get recognition.”

It is also Federal Way’s first residential plat completely dedicated to Low Impact Development (LID) sustainable design techniques, and the first true cottage housing project in South King County.

Construction of another 16-home cottage housing community is planned for Bonney Lake in 2022. McCaffrey said he also would like to build more cottage housing in Federal Way in the future.

“The key to these projects is the zoning that allows them,” he said. “Federal Way has a flexible ordinance; once you know the ins and outs of everything, and once the city knows the ins and outs, it makes it appealing to develop in Federal Way again.”

The Nexus Studio was in competition with various national and local new home builders, which made the recognition as Community of the Year even more special, he said.

In addition, the group’s entries have been submitted to the upcoming national event taking place in February next year.

For more information, visit www.mirrorlakehighlands.com.


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Mirror Lake Highlands is at 31114 6th Lane SW in Federal Way. Courtesy photo

Mirror Lake Highlands is at 31114 6th Lane SW in Federal Way. Courtesy photo

Mirror Lake Highlands is at 31114 6th Lane SW in Federal Way. Courtesy photo

Mirror Lake Highlands is at 31114 6th Lane SW in Federal Way. Courtesy photo

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