The town of Celebration is divided into a number of villages, aka real estate development clusters. It is productive to visit a number of neighbourhoods since they vary in what might appeal to the renter or buyer.
above: one of the busier residential streets had very large houses, but all were zoned to permit home occupations, adding another element to the blend of occupancy types.
above: across the short bridge shown in the background, and through the portico, brought us to a courtyard apartment development that I’d love to see in Ottawa as an alternative to glass box highrises. Turning around, we’d see …
above: six storey mid rise apartments. Balconies were large, often six to ten feet deep, and screened, as is shown in the pic below:
All housing types have discrete parking in garages or courtyards or off laneways.
above: Celebration has single-stream garbage pickup. Everyone had the same, very large garbage can, with the result that many people left it out by the laneway rather than dragging it into the garage. Porches and patios were not turned into recycling depots. We actually saw people using verandahs and porches and balconies for their intended purpose.
above: ten years ago Celebration looked very plastic-y. Some critics focussed on the white fences with the faux-surprised claim “but getting up close I discovered they were all plastic”. Had these poor souls never ventured out to see new housing in everyplace’s surburbia?? Had they truly been deprived of ever visiting a Home Depot or Lowes? But shrubs and trees have grown, properties have become individualized, and bits of wear and tear show up, nothing too ugly, but enough to take off the too-good-to-be-true sheen.
above: rows of townhouses can be arranged in long parades, rather like the townhomes of Bath, England or the Royal Crescent. Notice how the street has a gentle curve. Built in traffic calming. Separation of car and pedestrian. An invitation to walk. It’s January, so a number of deciduous trees are thin or bare.
above: another view of the crescent, employing a repeating pattern, a delightful symmetry. If you don’t like all the houses in a row, there were other streets with a finer mix of housing styles as shown yesterday. Squint as I might, I could not see for sure if the third floor dormer was fake or to a real room. On some other blocks, close inspection revealed too-uniform dormers sized with false perspective. Note that Ottawa has fake dormers on townhouses too.
above: this is the laneway behind the same crescent of townhouses. The garage on the immediate left has a laneway apartment above it, as does the third garage cluster. Note also that there is a mix of garages and carports. The upstairs apartments rent for about $600 for a studio (above a one car garage), $800 for one bedroom (above a two car garage) and up to $1400 for large apartments (all utilities in). The idea of having a “mortgage helper” apartment only works if you build it out cheaply. Since these were built to code, with fine details, and bundled into the house price, buyers paid full price per square foot for the space, which means they take an awfully long time to pay back. As time went on, fewer and fewer buyers chose to purchase units with accessory apartments above the garage. Laneway units add vitality and housing variety, but not affordable housing. Ergo, garage units are seen mostly in the original parts of Celebration and not in the newer ones. It may also be that renters prefer the amenities of a more private apartment.
above: the houses face the concave part of the crescent, which puts them closer together and makes for an intricate closely-knit fabric. The rear-facing garages are on the convex side of the crescent, opening up spaces between the garages and contributing to airiness. As you can see thru the gate, the townhouses are different sizes and layouts despite their harmonious frontages.
above: in another neighbourhood there were other styles of homes. Single homes, three bedrooms, are available starting in the $300,000 range; 1600 sq ft apartments for $200,000 (and up and up). The area also had its versions of Island Park, Clemow and Powell Avenues, with multimillion dollar grand homes:
above: grand homes along an entry road, they also backed onto greenspace. Right across the street, however, there were rows and apartments and modest homes. Can you imagine Ottawa planners allowing a brick intersection with a decorative circle in it and dangerous brick posts at the sidewalks?
above: the long growing season means that relatively new houses soon look established with attractive vegetation and shaded sidewalks.
above: all of Florida isn’t much above sea level, so surface drainage ponds and canals are common. There is a line of three and four storey apartments on both sides of this canal-lawn-street-boulevard-sidewalk-yard cross section.
You can create your own tour of Celebration with Google Streetview.
I have more photos of Celebration, and maps, but the reader comment section has grown silent so this will end the Celebration series and the focus turns again to Ottawa. Later, I will post a series of photos of a new urbanism town that failed — badly — and its ties to Ottawa.