In the Village
I have been trying for almost a week to get this post done. For some reason, I have been having trouble uploading my photos recently, but I finally have them for you! After all, who wants to read a photography blog with no photos?
One of the things I do as a Realtor is to take floor duty, which is when I sit in the office and hope someone calls in to see a house or list their house. These can be very lucrative calls, but there is no guarantee that you will get any calls in a given day. The other day, I was on floor duty in our Haile Plantation office, and took the opportunity to wander around the Haile Village Town Center once I was done.
For those of you who do not know the area, Haile Plantation is a planned community that gets rave reviews. My architecture professors loved to talk about it, because there are actually homes designed by architects rather than builders. That’s very nice, as far as it goes. Haile Village Town Center is full of charm. It echoes an old town, with storefronts and promenades designed to be walkable.
Except as far as walkability goes, brick sidewalks really aren’t. Especially when an attempt to create more charm means that they are bumpy and wavy. Can you imagine being in a wheelchair and trying to navigate this quaint street?
All of the pretty touches designed to give this area charm end up annoying me. The towns that are echoed in this modern bit of nostalgia were built as modern towns, with new ideas, not as something already stuck in the past. They were built of the most modern materials in the most modern way possible. Creating a new community out of old ideas feels false to me, as does the use of modern materials to re-create old embellishments.
The biggest problem I have, though, with many of these new urban neighborhoods is that they are built to be walkable, but don’t include so many things people need. Grocery stores are often many miles away. In fact, often, these communities are built so far from any other neighborhoods that they cut themselves off from the world. Part of the idea of new urbanism is that everything necessary is available within the urban core, so leaving the grocery store out in favor of boutiques makes little sense. Haile is beautiful, but I wish it were more honest. Can you imagine how much more beautiful this could be with current building sensibilities and methods?