Community goes ‘ better,’ not bigger
Developments aim at quality, not size
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.