About Grinnell Garden Cottages LLC

Grinnell Garden Cottages LLC was formed for the purpose of developing pocket neighborhoods of garden cottages in Iowa’s towns and smaller cities. The garden cottage houses are designed to offer quality housing at prices that are affordable to middle income households. The pocket neighborhoods that they are located in are arranged to provide a truly neighborly environment to live in.

The Garden Cottage Concept

The garden cottage housing concept originated in the Seattle Region almost twenty years ago as a way of providing affordable housing in an area with very high housing costs. Garden cottage-style developments are now spreading across the country. Our Grinnell project is the first of its kind to be developed in Iowa.

Cottage housing is not new in America. Millions of these homes were built in America from the 1880s through the 1920s. The exteriors of our cottages strongly resemble older cottage homes that exist today in your town or city; and the front porch located in close proximity to the sidewalk takes center stage once again in our cottage homes. The cottage interiors are, however, very contemporary. Home life is centered on a great room which contains living, dining, and kitchen areas. In our 1 ½ story homes, the great room has a 1 ½ story ceiling with a balcony overlooking from the master suite above.

The idea of grouping housing around a common green is not new either. Housing has been clustered around town squares for centuries in England, Europe, and even in America. The most contemporary form of this is the townhouse project, where attached homes are around a common open space. What makes the Garden Cottage concept different is that single family homes surround the green, and for homeowners, outdoor life is centered on the front porch, the front yard, and the common green.

The scale of these pocket neighborhoods is very small, from 8 to 12 houses surround the green. At that scale, everyone knows their neighbor and everyone is a member of the homeowner’s association which manages the common areas of the project (e.g. the driveway, the green, etc.) and their maintenance (e.g. lawn care and snow removal). Neighborhoods where everyone knows each other and where they work together to take care of their neighborhood are safe, friendly neighborhoods.


Grinnell Garden Cottages LLC (GGC) are owned by Glenn Lyons and Marilyn Arber, currently of Des Moines, Iowa. Glenn Lyons is an urban planner and economic development professional with nearly forty years of experience working in Western Canada, Arizona, and Iowa. Marilyn Arber is a former real estate paralegal who also owned and operated a number of retail businesses and a manufacturing company in Western Canada.

Glenn and Marilyn also own and operate 571 Polson Developments LLC, an urban planning and real estate development consulting company whose work is focused in smaller cities and towns in Iowa.

Visit 571 Polson Developments LLC

East Street Development

Grinnell Garden Cottages on East Street contains 12, two and three-bedroom single family homes.

The East Street project is located one block away from Miller Park/Nyanza Lake and one block away from Grinnell Community Middle School.

Working With the Local Community

GGC is committed to working with local suppliers and contractors as much as possible. In Grinnell, Innovative Construction Inc. is our local builder. Lincoln Savings Bank, who have a branch office in Grinnell, is our construction lender; they are also offering home mortgages and insurance to buyers. Ramsey-Weeks, Inc. are providing sales and marketing services. Malcom Lumber, also of Grinnell, is the largest of a number of local suppliers.

By working with local contractors, suppliers, and service providers, GGC is able to keep much of the investment in its projects within the local economy. In doing so, its projects become more of a community effort. And, because pocket neighborhoods are a new idea and represent a unique approach to single family housing development, cooperation with local government, is critical to its success. In Grinnell’s case, much of the land required for the project was purchased from the City of Grinnell; and City Council approved a planned unit development rezoning to allow the project to be built.

Local Partners


Innovative Construction, Inc.

Construction Lender

Lincoln Savings Bank

Visit Site

Home Mortgages

Lincoln Savings Bank

Visit Site

Sales & Marketing

RE/MAX Partners Realty

932 Main St Grinnell, IA 50112, 641-236-6683 Licensed in Iowa.

Titles, Legal, Insurance

Poweshiek Abstract Title Company;
Schild Law Office;
Grinnell Mutual

Local Suppliers

Malcom Lumber

Local Sub Contractors


Iowa Consultants

Reynolds Urban Design & Planning
Bergland and Cram Architects
Imprint Architects
Raker Rhodes Engineering LLC
Shive Hattery Inc.

In the Press

Plan is to build 12 single-family homes on East Street

Des Moines Register | Dann Hayes | April 27, 2016
The plan is to bring affordable housing to Grinnell and Glenn Lyons has a plan to do just that.

Construction is scheduled to start in a couple of weeks on a 12-home residential area on East Street in Grinnell – there will be eight 1 ½-story residences and four 1-story homes. All will have three bedrooms.

“Grinnell is a good city,” Lyons, Principal with Grinnell Garden Cottages LLC, said. “The city is really progressive, but there is a housing shortage.”

According to Lyons, the concept for the East Street Development is taken from a similar arrangement in Seattle, where residential communities have been developed on the same basic idea. But, he adds, the homes will be more affordable in Grinnell.

The garden cottage-style homes, he said, will be priced to sell from $199,900 to $214,500.

The 1 ½-story homes will have a garage while the 1-story homes will have carports designed to be turned into a garage if the buyer wants to spend the extra money, Lyons said. And the inside will be very contemporary.

“The object is to build quality homes in the community,” he said. “They are designed as an average middle class structure.”

It is estimated that qualifying household incomes begin at about $50,000, Lyons said.

The residential plan has the homes facing a common landscaped green area. The residences also share common outdoor amenities, access and servicing.

According to Lyons, this is the first time Iowa has seen this type of development.

“If we get the reception we expect, we’ll plan another project like this in Grinnell,” Lyons said. “I think we have a good product at an affordable price.”

They will be building four homes “at a pop,” he said, with the final homes to be completed around Labor Day.