Suburban Development in the Urban Core

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Riverside, the original suburb of Jacksonville, Fla., is less than three miles from the downtown urban core and the city’s booming finance and logistics sector. Like many historic suburbs, over the years, Riverside’s rich architectural heritage was threatened by neglect. The Courtyard on College Street is a 19-home project that aims to add much-needed housing to the area while maintaining historic styles. The Site With many of the area’s original homes falling down or being turned into two-family rentals and commercial offices, this infill project seeks to bring in buyers who are looking to plant their roots in an area on the verge of a resurgence. The one-acre site was a vacant eyesore, with only a threatening chain-link fence for security. Ringed by three streets and an alley, the only thing the site had going for it was the neighborhood’s proximity to shopping and jobs. Getting the most out of the site presented many challenges:
  • Creating a single-family detached community with 19 units, plus a green space.
  • Establishing turn-key housing for young professionals around $300,000, close to jobs in the urban core.
  • Creating floor plans with new designs and features that buyers crave in compact footprints.
  • Satisfying neighbors with exteriors that harmonize with the existing neighborhood.
[caption id="attachment_13849" align="alignright" width="300"] Elevations for the project. Courtesy of Housing Design Matters, Inc.[/caption] Building Types With prices starting in the low $300s, the project consists of two types of single-family cottages, each featuring two floor plan offerings. The first type has a two-car parking pad alongside the home. The building pad is a modest 25 feet wide by 42 feet deep. These 1,800-square foot homes feature two front elevations. The first is along College Street, where porches are in keeping with the surrounding neighborhood. The second is along the internal green space. The second home type is alley-accessed, allowing for a two-car garage. These homes line the common green space with wide, friendly porches and a building footprint of 30 feet wide by 40 feet deep. While no one would argue against the convenience of a two-car garage, it gobbles up a third of the first-floor building pad. Architectural Styles The exteriors feature siding-dominant Craftsman and Prairie Style architecture. Rich saturated colors were selected to enhance the architectural styles and complement the surrounding region. The porches and finished floors are raised up two steps, in keeping with the neighborhood. And because the site is ringed on all sides by roads, all four elevations had to have the same look, color, and materials as the front elevations while remaining affordable. To keep the home affordable, the buildings had to be efficient; 100% stacking plans maximize the building footprint while avoiding costly beams. Kitchens are open entertaining spaces with large gathering islands and a single integrated café space. Other features include “Welcome Home Foyers” with drop zones, under-stair pet rooms, large walk-in closets, and four-piece master baths with private toilet rooms. The project is in the entitlement stage with construction scheduled for early fall. With only 19 cottages in such a prime location, it is sure to set a new standard for the community. The Courtyard on College Street Developer/builder: Alex Sifakis, JWB Real Estate Capital Land Planner, Landscape Architect: Joe Loretta, Genesis Group Architect: Deryl Patterson, Housing Design Matters Inc. This post was adapted from an article in the Fall 2018 issue of Best in American Living. Read the issue for more pictures of Courtyard on College Street and other stories. Author Deryl Patterson, AIA, is president of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Housing Design Matters.

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