The Best Cottage Communities - 2008
During each of the three years immediately prior to its ceasing publication, Cottage Living magazine
published its choices for the Top Ten Cottage Neighborhoods. For those of you not fortunate
to have seen these lists, we are re-publishing them for your files.
The first list, originally issued in 2006, included ten older, established neighborhoods across the country,
the last list, 2008, focused on new communities with a varied mix of architectural styles ranging from
to a southwest "pueblo" design. Here is the list for 2008, along with summaries
published by the magazine
for each local community.
These ten were selected from hundreds of communities and feature "...
places with porches and gardens,
parks and playgrounds; streets where you can stroll to locally owned shops and restaurants;
architecture that makes your heart skip a beat; places where neighbors know your name and are trustworthy,
dependable, and free for a cookout on Friday night."
Top 10 cottage neighborhoods for 2008*
Serenbe, Palmetto GA
Urban meets rural in this community south
"We're close to Atlanta, but at night we can see a million
stars," says Maripat Newington, who moved to Serenbe from Atlanta with her husband, Greg, and two children. "It's
the combination of great food, art, nature, and people." The core philosophy is growth that allows for land preservation.
Begun in 2002 with an expected build-out of more than 600 homes, the 900-acre greenfield community will leave 70 percent of
its woods, meadows, and wetlands untouched.
Today, there's a village called Selborne, with homes,
shops, restaurants, and other businesses, and two other villages are in the works. All homes at Serenbe face a village street
and back up to one of four types of preserved land: forest, wildflower meadow, organic farm, or pasture.
"It suits the split personality in each of us," says Serenbe founder Steve Nygren. "If we wake up
and want to interact with others, we go out the front door for a Sunday paper or cappuccino. If we want to retreat, we step
out back." Farther out back, residents find an organic farm that supplies a local farmers' market, a pair of Serenbe
restaurants, and members of the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Baldwin's Run, Camden NJ
Traditional neighborhood design and new homes
spark a miracle turnaround for this community near Philadelphia.
The "before and after" is astounding. Everything changed-even the neighborhood's name. Formerly known as
Westfield Acres, the gang-infested, physically deteriorating public housing project made daily life hell for its residents
and spread blight to surrounding historic neighborhoods. Tacking city and state funding onto a $35 million federal HOPE VI
grant, the Housing Authority of the City of Camden (HACC) demolished Westfield Acres and, with the help of private developer
Pennrose Properties and a nonprofit organization called St. Joseph's Carpenter Society, redeveloped the land into a mixed-income
community of rental units and attractive owner-occupied homes. Today, the peaceful, thriving neighborhood is called Baldwin's
"My parents wouldn't allow me to sit outside on the
steps," remembers Nia Timmons, who was lucky enough to be transferred to another development. Today, she's back and raising
two children in Baldwin's Run. "It's a pleasure to sit outside now. Everyone comes together as a community."
Northwest Crossing, Bend OR
This walkable neighborhood near
Bend, Oregon emphasizes smart growth and integration with its environment.
People move to Bend, in Oregon's high desert, for outdoor action-limitless mountain biking and hiking trails, world-class
fly-fishing streams, challenging golf courses, and skiing and snowboarding in the Cascade Mountains, closer to Bend than the
average American's daily commute. So imagine also finding a neighborhood like NorthWest Crossing, where proximity to all those
wonderful activities is matched by an equally healthy quality of life.
Begun in 2001 and built partially on a former ponderosa pine tree farm, the 486-acre development falls just within
the western edge of the city's Urban Growth Boundary, a line all Oregon municipalities must establish in order to curb suburban
sprawl. The mixed-use Traditional Neighborhood Design centers on a circular 5-acre park and retains many of the original ponderosa
pines, giving it a lived-in feel.
says Christi Haynes, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Bend "for the lifestyle." And "everybody
says 'Hi.' I'll meet my girlfriends at NorthWest Crossing for lunch and they'll say, 'No wonder you wanted to come here. You
know everybody.' It's true. I feel like I belong."
Parkview, Redding CA
Parkview is a small traditional pocket neighborhood
within a larger cottage community.
Urban Builders, a developer, was experienced in creating greenfield communities using Traditional Neighborhood Design principles.
But could the company use what it had learned about housing variety, front porches, walkable streets, and alley access to
plug a 3-plus-acre hole in a struggling older community?
older community was the roughly 288-acre neighborhood of Parkview in Redding, a city known for its sprawl. Parkview had seen
better days: Crime was up, and many homes were neglected. To turn things around, the Redding Redevelopment Agency and then-city
manager Mike Warren energized the neighborhood association to pump effort and money into improvements.
Part of the redevelopment was a 33-home infill community built by New Urban Builders.
Filled with colorful cottages on smaller, more sociable lots, it symbolizes Parkview's comeback. Redevelopment has not been
easy. And some critics have decried the city's practice of relocating renters. Still, says local Bill Ulch, residents have
"made it an actual living space rather than something you hide from."
Agritopia, Gilbert AZ
near Phoenix stays true to the land's agricultural heritage.
If only all farmers were as resourceful as Joe Johnston.
When he felt the development pressure encroaching into Gilbert from Phoenix, he didn't throw up his hands and sell out. He
shrank his farming operations and built his own community, one that emphasized neighborliness, quality of life, pedestrians
over automobiles, and-this is important-the land's farming heritage. "I asked myself what kind of community I would like
to live in," says Joe.
He started reading books and visiting
beloved older neighborhoods in Phoenix and Pasadena, California. The result is the uniquely named Agritopia, a Traditional
Neighborhood Design with Southwest vernacular homes, a school, playing fields, a unique dog park, and a working 15-acre farm
at the core.
"We love living here because our house is
close to the street," says Brian Ruffentine of the home he shares with his wife and three children. "There's a low
fence line, and we're always talking to our neighbors or throwing a Frisbee or watching the kids skateboard. We spend more
time in our front yard than in our beautiful backyard."
Arbolera de Vida, Albuquerque NM
A former industrial site near downtown Albuquerque is reborn as
affordable urban cottage neighborhood.
the name suggests, Arbolera de Vida, or orchard of life, is an enlivening force in Albuquerque, offering low-income residents
affordable housing and a community that instills pride. It wasn't always this way. Until a decade ago, the 27-acre plot of
land just north of the city center was home to a run-down sawmill, broad expanses of dusty ground, and hundreds of feet of
chain-link fence. Today, there are 56 townhomes and casitas (duplexes) with another 37 to be constructed, all clustered amid
newly planted trees.
A playground, recently built with
lots of volunteer help, beckons neighborhood children. A biking/walking trail leads to Rio Grande State Park and Old Town,
the city's historic district and a major draw for tourists. "People are always shocked when they come here," says
Pam Riley, a Sawmill Community Land Trust staff member. They say, "This is affordable housing?" "Just because
people are getting subsidies doesn't mean their homes can't be beautiful."
|Holiday Neighborhood, Boulder CO
The city of Boulder partners with private developers to build
an urban neighborhood with walkable streets and moderately priced housing.
No, this is not a resort community. The newly developed mixed-use neighborhood was named for the twin-screen Holiday
Drive In Theater that operated on this north Boulder site from 1969 to 1988. The recently refurbished marquee still stands,
visible from the community gardens and the bike path along U.S. 36. Easy Rider Lane was named after the first feature film
to play here.
And when the weather is warm, the locals catch
outdoor movies on an inflatable screen in Holiday Park, near the original location of the drive-in.
The movie ties are just the beginning of a long list of what's right with this community. A model public-private
partnership, the Holiday Neighborhood has designated more than 40 percent of its housing units as permanently affordable,
which fills a great need (and is quite a feat) in Boulder, where real estate prices have skyrocketed in recent years. And
it does it with urban panache, offering a range of housing styles, including live/work spaces for artists, pocket parks, a
shared garden for vegetables, and the latest in green design, including rooftop solar panels.
Westside, Kansas City, MO
Locals drive the efforts to revive the spirit of an
older neighborhood without pricing out the original residents.
One of the oldest neighborhoods in Kansas City, Westside is a collection of mostly late-19th-century homes-simple
frame and brick two-story Victorians with front porches and the occasional storage shed. Westside's fortunes waxed and waned
during the 20th century, but thanks to the hard work of many dedicated residents, including a large family-oriented Hispanic
population, the neighborhood is safe and economically sound today, with a diverse and creative mix of people.
"Everything is right here," says Stephanie Shirazi, a Westside
resident since 1992, referring not only to neighborhood amenities like shops and restaurants but also to many of Kansas City's
cultural attractions, including the Crossroads Arts District, Union Station, Science City, and the 85-acre retail and entertainment
complex known as Crown Center. "You can walk to practically whatever you want to do."
|Noisette, North Charleston SC
City leaders and a private developer bring walkable
streets, sustainable building practices, and plenty of parks to North Charleston.
The developer's tagline for Noisette-"The
New American City"-is a bit misleading. A city already exists here: North Charleston, which has grown from 7 to 73 square
miles and to a population of more than 85,000 since it was incorporated in 1972. At North Charleston's historic core, however,
is a critical 3,000-acre zone that by the 1990s had mounting problems, including a deteriorating prefab-home neighborhood,
run-down public housing projects, outdated utilities, and a decommissioned Navy Yard.
those 3,000 acres-dubbed Noisette, after an 18th-century botanist-are being reshaped in a massive effort that may indeed result
in a model new city, where sustainability and quality of life are the top priorities.
decision-making process takes into account three things: people, planet, and prosperity," says Elias Deeb, a project
manager for the Noisette Company, which created the master plan and is redeveloping the 340-acre Navy Yard. "We try to
find the sweet spot where all three are represented equally."
|Prairie Crossing, Grayslake, IL
Just north of Chicago, Prairie Crossing redefines the suburbs with
a design connecting it to the land and mass transit connecting it to the city.
Residents of Prairie Crossing, 40 miles north of Chicago, have it all: a neighborhood of high-quality cottages painted
the earthy colors of the Midwestern prairie; a farmers' market selling organic produce, eggs, and honey; miles of trails winding
through native prairie, farm fields, and pasture; a lake for swimming, fishing, and ice-skating; a historic-barn community
center for parties and concerts; and a charter elementary school housed in a historic schoolhouse.
What ties everything at Prairie Crossing together is respect for Mother Nature. More than 60 percent of Prairie Crossing's
677 acres has been preserved as open land. "People have all these opportunities to live in relation to the land,"
says Vicky Ranney, who founded the community along with her husband, George. "It may be enjoying beautiful views out
their kitchen window or participating in 'prairie burns' to enhance the quality of the native landscape or volunteering to
be part of the Henhouse Helpers, collecting and washing eggs." And it's not just an island of pastoral bliss-Prairie
Crossing has what may be the holy grail of suburban conservation developments: a rail connection direct to the abundance of
downtown Chicago as well as the airport.
originally printed by Cottage Living and copyright by Cottage Living 2008.
Click here to view the Top Cottage Communities for 2006 and 2007.