Urban Fold

Burbs Becoming "Mini-Cities"

Jenny Sullivan of Builder Magazine spots a trend for slightly increased densities in suburban towns, creating urban-lite communities that are attracting city dwellers who would never have dreamed of living in the burbs.

Sullivan looks at two Chicago suburbs that are upping their urban quotient, and profiles a developer that saw the writing on the wall ten years ago:

"Humphreys & Partners Architects in Dallas began experimenting with the idea that apartments didn't have to be towering high-rises or garden-style buildings with creepy central breezeways. The firm's trademarked "Big House" prototype-which has been adopted by builders including Pacific West, Pardee Homes, and Watermark Residential-places roughly 10 rental apartment or condo units inside a 12,000-square-foot (give or take), two-story structure that looks like a single-family home on the outside.

It's a diplomatic way of bumping up density in conventional subdivisions in a way that feels contextual in scale, says CEO Mark Humphries..."

Full Story: Creating Community



New vocabulary

Perhaps I am ignorant of the term, but it seems to me that we need a new word to describe these developments. Suburbia shills like Kotkin and Cox will use and are using this story to show the benefits of suburbia. Despite being outside of Chicago city limits this sort of development is has much more to do with urban development patterns than suburban patterns. There needs to be a term that captures the media attention that differentiates this sort of development from suburbia. Certainly transit oriented development would be a possibility, but I'm not sure it would have the media success needed to dispel this suburban propaganda.

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