Some of Atlanta’s newest suburban neighborhoods are poised to become walkable urban settings that appeal to millennials, baby boomers and other buyers.
“The new urbanist movement, which is about 30 years old, is a movement to restore the best of our traditional neighborhoods where we used to live, work and play; where everything was within a 10-minute walk,” said Rob Parker, president of Pinewood Forrest, a 234-acre mixed-use community in Fayetteville located across the street from Pinewood Atlanta Studios.
The urban-suburban lifestyle is seeing significant growth in the metro area. Atlanta is No. 11 for walkable urbanism out of the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, according to a 2016 study by the George Washington University School of Business.
With its first residents expected this fall, Pinewood Forrest will eventually have 600 single-family residences, 100 townhomes and 600 multi-family flats and an expected 3,000 residents. The two- to five-bedroom homes, with 1,214-3,880 square feet in the first phase, range from $350,000 to $1 million.
Pinewood Forrest, Halcyon in Forsyth County and metro Atlanta subdivisions by FrontDoor Communities all have similar visions of walkability built into the design of the neighborhoods, which include homes, green space and retail amenities.
A cup of sugar and more
Homes are designed to encourage socialization and interaction with neighbors that goes beyond occasional hellos or borrowing a missing ingredient when cooking dinner. Pinewood Forrest’s homes are set close to the street to facilitate “conversations on the stoop,” Parker said. Paths connecting to park space run in front of homes.
In new neighborhoods by FrontDoor Communities, homes are designed for interaction with neighbors, said CEO Terry Russell. Outdoor kitchens and living spaces, living room windows that fold open and porches with retractable screens are among home features. Homes range from $700,000 to more than $1 million at Goulding, which has three- to four-bedroom townhouses and single-family residences starting at 3,174 square feet. Inwood’s two- to five-bedroom homes, starting at 2,133 square feet, range from the mid-$300,000s to the mid-$400,000s.
Nature that nurtures
Most walkable communities are trying to incorporate trail systems, walking paths and parks for residents. Increasingly important to homebuyers is access to green space, said Patrick Leonard, principal at RocaPoint Partners, which is developing Halcyon in south Forsyth County.
Halcyon, expected to welcome its first residents in 2018, will have about 700 residences when complete. Townhouses, single-family homes and multi-family flats will range from $400,000-$700,000, joining plans for two hotels and 500,000 square feet of commercial space.
With half of the 135 total acres set aside for green space, Halcyon will have a trail connecting to the Big Creek Greenway and the Chattahoochee River. Leonard said people living in nearby communities are encouraged to bike or walk to Halcyon using the greenway.
“The reason we chose the project is it’s the trailhead for the Big Creek Greenway,” said Leonard.
Pinewood Forrest will have 15 miles of walking paths, including a boardwalk through wetlands and a connection to Peachtree City Path System. Half of the 234 total acres will be set aside for green space, including a 7-acre lake.
Putting the urban in suburban
A vibrant city center is a key element in creating an urban context. At Halcyon, visitors and residents will park in a planned screened deck to explore shops, chef-driven restaurants and a dine-in movie theater centered around green space.
A wellness center is planned in the nearly 93,000-square-foot Village Square at Pinewood Forrest, joining retail and restaurants around 3 acres of green space. The community aims to offer an urban environment for the creative minds that work in and around the film studios, Parker says. Residents can access Pinewood Studios, where they may work, via a pedestrian bridge that will accommodate golf carts. Pinewood Forrest also plans to have two hotels.
Each FrontDoor Communities project is located within walking distance to an existing suburban downtown, such as Roswell (with 40 homes in Goulding) and Woodstock (with 75 homes in Inwood), Russell said.
“The extent that you have walkability to an authentic environment, I think that has a considerable amount of appeal to buyers,” he said.