Com­mu­nity goes ‘ bet­ter,’ not big­ger

De­vel­op­ments aim at qual­ity, not size

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties -

When the views are spec­tac­u­lar and the wa­ter is only steps away, no one com­plains about the square footage of the beach house.

“Bet­ter rather than big­ger” is how the Washington-state-based Cot­tage Com­pany char­ac­ter­izes its new­est com­mu­nity of smaller, sus­tain­able homes to be built on the Kit­sap Penin­sula in Puget Sound, west of Seat­tle.

While only seven in num­ber, the two-and three-bed­room Chico Beach Cot­tages re­flect the com­pany’s wellestab­lished rep­u­ta­tion for build­ing mod­est-sized ar­chi­tect-de­signed homes that re­flect a strong com­mit­ment to es­thetic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and com­mu­nity is­sues.

It all be­gan in Seat­tle two decades ago with the ren­o­va­tion of 10 First World War-era, Crafts­man-style bun­ga­lows known as the Pine Street Cot­tages.

De­spite a lot of pub­lic squawk­ing about their mere 400 square feet of liv­ing space (plus loft), “they were a huge hit,” says Cot­tage Com­pany pres­i­dent Linda Pruitt. “They sold out in­stantly.”

Around the same time, Washington state passed its Growth Man­age­ment Act — a ma­jor piece of leg­is­la­tion aimed at curb­ing sprawl into nat­u­ral habi­tat, farm­land and other green spa­ces.

“It was a huge de­ci­sion,” says Pruitt. “It set new bound­aries.”

In 1997, the Cot­tage Com­pany launched its first small-scale project on Whid­bey Is­land near Seat­tle.

This pic­turesque (and now-fa­mous) col­lec­tion, known as the Third Street Cot­tages, com­prises eight fully de­tached homes (on four sin­gle­fam­ily lots), each with fewer than 1,000 square feet.

This devel­op­ment — fol­low­ing the ur­ban plan­ning think­ing known as “smart growth” — es­tab­lished the Cot­tage Com­pany as a pi­o­neer in “the cot­tage move­ment” and put it on the road to build­ing seven ad­di­tional “pocket neigh­bour­hood com­mu­ni­ties,” the most re­cent be­ing Chico Beach Cot­tages on Dyes In­let, a large salt wa­ter in­let west of Bain­bridge Is­land.

As well as ad­dress­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, this type of hous­ing re­sponds to chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics, and a grow­ing de­mand for smaller, high-qual­ity de­tached hous­ing.

“Not ev­ery­one wants to live in an at­tached, shared­walled en­vi­ron­ment (mean­ing apart­ment or stacked condo),” says Pruitt, not­ing, in par­tic­u­lar, the in­ter­est from sin­gle pro­fes­sional women and empty nesters.

An artist’s ren­der­ing of the Chico Beach Cot­tages in Sil­verdale, Wash.

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