There are many trends in real estate today, but the one gaining the most traction is new urbanism. Its name sounds futuristic, and it does apply to a new concept. The concept is to revitalize an urban area and give the structures (residential or commercial) an eco-friendly makeover. The goal is to bring cities back to what they were centuries ago: walkable, sustainable and beautiful. With the industrial revolution and the advances in technology, creating new cities became a chore. The buildings went up where there was space, disrupting the aesthetics of a neighborhood. And when urban blight developed, many neighborhoods — and even small towns — went into disrepair. The rents were lowered and the crime went up.
New urbanism is a way to bring run-down neighborhoods back to life. It is more than just cleaning them up. This concept entails taking down buildings that are one step away from falling down. It is preferred to renovate them to bring back the character of the structure, but sometimes it is too costly. These new neighborhoods are sustainable and promote community engagement. According to Congress for New Urbanism, the focus is on human-scale design. Shopping and public transportation are nearby, which reduces our carbon footprint and saves money on gas and car maintenance. The streets are made for people more so than cars. It’s also about creating courtyards and shop fronts where people and neighbors can get to know one another to create a tight-knit and diverse community. Examples of new urbanism include Watercolor (FL), Columbia Heights (DC) and Hannibal Square (FL).
Watercolor is a “master-planned” community that is part residential and part resort. Located on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, this 499-acre community was designed to have a small town feel, with pathways connecting homes to parks and shops. The homes have big porches that are perfect for hanging out and getting to know the neighbors. Columbia Heights in Washington, D.C. has another characteristic of new urbanism: public spaces. The public spaces in this neighborhood, located outside of Washington, D.C. proper, offers plenty of room for open-air markets and social gatherings. Hannibal Square in Winter Park, Florida, is an another example of human-scale design with mixed-use buildings. These communities provide residents and visitors opportunities to take the time to get to know the area by walking through the quaint streets without worrying about parking or traffic. Everything is within walking distance, which promotes socialization and new business opportunities. New urbanism is making waves across the United States, and will continue to create new neighborhoods with unique characteristics as well as restore the characteristics of older ones.