Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jonathan vs. Clover Field

Look at that! An actual alley in Chaska, of all places.

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Chaska is known to urban planners for the New Town of Jonathan that was started around 1970. However, that project pretty much failed as originally designed and was annexed by Chaska in 1979. What was originally developed by a private company became a neighborhood association.

Today, what's seen in the map is something fairly different, one that appears to be designed based on New Urbanist principles: Small homes, densely packed, with alleys to hide garages. This appears to be the Clover Field development, which seems to date to around 2008 (the fact that a monster movie of the same name came out that year didn't seem to deter them). The homes themselves seem a bit expensive for me and not all that varied in price (a bit above the $200k mark), but I guess that page only shows the single-family options. These things take decades to mature, so we'll see how it goes.

In this spot, the single-family homes are packed tightly enough to have 9 or 10 units per acre. There are also some townhomes and condominiums nearby that boost the ratio even higher. In order to support a good transit system and have a sustainable community, you really want to be up at around 15 units per acre or higher (roughly 25 people per acre and up). That translates to 16,000 people per square mile—this spot in Chaska is denser than most of Minneapolis.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


An unusual neighborhood layout I found in Farmington, Minnesota:

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Unlike most of the city, the setback for homes here is fairly small. Many of the city blocks also appear to have curving walkways running somewhat diagonally through them. Basically, each block has a park in the center. I was thinking this might be some vaguely New Urbanist community, though the homes all appear to have driveways in the front, which is a New Urbanist no-no. However, it does seem that these blocks could easily become converted into European-style apartment blocks, which often have apartments running around the edge of the block and an open area in the center (not that I'd expect it to happen anytime in the next century, mind you...). For an idea of what I was thinking of, look at these blocks from Copenhagen, for instance:

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