Lots of things have gotten smaller in the recession: investment portfolios, egos, personal incomes, houses—and entire development deals, which seem to be steadily downscaling in the face of an ongoing financing drought. Lenders that readily opened their pockets to green light big master plans during the boom are now much more inclined to fund boutique deals with smaller takedowns and less risk. For architect and author Sarah Susanka, this trend offers some validation of her long-held position that bigger isn’t necessarily better. It has also presented a new kind of place-making opportunity for the icon of “not-so-big” to make her next move. Find out more about Susanka’s latest venture with developer John McLinden in Libertyville,Ill., and how they've already sold 17 compact homes in just nine months without a single completed model. Then watch for a bigger story on their pocket project, School Street Homes, in an upcoming issue of Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL.