Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sterile Suburbs

If you love sterile ugly tract housing, have we got a place for you in Florida:

click for larger photo
photo courtesy of NYT


"America is growing. And it is growing the fastest here, at the farm-road margins of metropolitan areas, with planned communities sprouting up and becoming a prime focus, almost a fetish, for election strategists from both major parties.

Such places do not sprout by happenstance. Driven by irresistible economic forces and shaped by subtly shifting social patterns, they are being created, down to the tiniest detail, by a handful of major developers with a master plan for the new America. In the case of New River, that developer is KB Home, one of the nation's biggest and most profitable builders with $7 billion in sales last year, which helped make it sixth among all Standard & Poor's 500 companies in total revenues."

Personally, I cannot stand the typical suburban tract housing, with rows of identical huts. Give me a  100 year old Dutch Colonial anyday . . .

Here's a view of the exurb region's density:

click for larger graphic



Its square mile of tightly packed homes is the outer crest of Tampa's residential swell, four miles from the nearest grocery store and 30 minutes from the nearest major mall. Just down the road, beyond some orange groves, cattle graze languorously amid the insect hum of a sun-baked field, and only a few mobile home parks and a roadside stand selling tiki huts interrupt the vast sea of pine, palmetto and dense thatch.

But it will be a short-lived isolation. More than three dozen other communities in Pasco County, some bigger than New River, are in the works, promising 100,000 new homes in the next five years. A megamall is coming. And the first of the big-box stores, a Home Depot and a Sam's Club, had their gala openings not long ago . . .

Over the next decade, New River will expand to 1,800 acres and be home to 15,000 people living in 4,800 single-family homes, condominiums, town houses and rental units. It will have a 200-acre town center with 180,000 square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of commercial space, schools, government offices and a 207-acre park.

At the moment, though, it is nothing more than an island of 400 suburban homes in the middle of nowhere, an infant exurb.

The term "exurb" was coined in the 1950's in "The Exurbanites" by A. C. Spectorsky, a social historian, to describe semirural areas far outside cities where wealthy people had country estates. The exurbs of the 21st century are a different animal. And they are not the same as the older rings of closer suburbs.

The homes in exurbs are generally larger and the space between them smaller. They tend to turn their backs to the street, with the biggest and most used rooms in the rear. And the people who live in them are different. Instead of the all-white enclaves of the 1960's and 70's, the new exurbs are a mélange of colors and cultures."


Living Large, by Design, in the Middle of Nowhere
NYTimes, August 15, 2005

Posted at 09:33 AM in Design | Permalink


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I don't think you see the big picture. An old dutch colonial would be far more troublesome to upkeep and far, far more expensive in most cities (unless you were fine with the compromise that gentrification entails.) This neighborhood is not to my taste, but thanks to a market with a more discriminating taste, many new neighborhoods look better than their post-war counterparts. All homes in a particular era or style tend to look similar, however in boom periods the volume is higher. Please note this applies to any city in the world.

This neighborhood would look better if it had some more native vegetation.

Posted by: brandy alexander | Jun 5, 2007 3:22:16 PM

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