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Los_Angeles_aerial_shot(MCT)—Just north of downtown Los Angeles, skinny homes on tiny lots are sprouting from the hillsides — a building boom of miniature proportions.

The rectangular structures come in clusters of six or 15, or even 70, and developers are racing to build them in trendy neighborhoods. They’re eyeing younger home buyers who crave hip cafes and proximity to work but don’t want a sky-high condo or a Craftsman bungalow.

The so-called small-lot homes speak to a growing desire for a more compact and walkable Los Angeles, while still clinging to the single-family ideal that spread outward from downtown over the past century. The homes often have a small patio or roof deck but no backyard. The buyer owns little land beyond what sits beneath the house, a tiny footprint that cuts the cost in pricey neighborhoods.

“It’s sort of the iPhone or Prius of homes,” says Christian Navar, co-founder of L.A. architecture firm Modative, which designs the projects and hired on five more employees this year to handle the boom.

In the next 18 months, builders will break ground on roughly 250 small-lot homes in Los Angeles, said Chris Gomez-Ortigoza, a land broker specializing in the deals. The homes typically fetch between $500,000 and $800,000.

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