Last month’s update featured a couple of well-known traditional neighborhood developments on the Florida Design Coast. Rosemary Beach is one of the older developments along the 30A route with only Seaside an older development.
Rosemary Beach’s town center flanks 30A with a central village green (town map). Around the central green, colonnades frame the retail spaces in the mixed-use buildings. Continuing towards the gulf, cafes and outdoor dining line Main Street and were quite busy even in the off-season in which we visited. A hotel has been under construction for the past couple of years that we’ve visited and it appears to have stalled. I’m guessing it’s a victim of the recession, though not completely sure.
RB is unique in that there are few traditional streets, especially on the coast side of 30A. Rosemary Avenue is one of the few streets lined with sidewalks and fronted by units, but most homes face onto boardwalks that run North/South and provide pedestrian circulation. Landscaping along the boardwalks has a very ‘wild’ appearance and provides separation and screening to the adjacent porches of the single family homes. Additional East/West paths criss-cross the development. Slipping in and out of these pedestrian paths exposes you to a great variety of details throughout the development. The photo below is of one of the grand homes lining Rosemary Avenue.
Boardwalk providing pedestrian circulation
Tight, narrow lanes provide vehicular circulation to many of the units in RB and are generally lined with laneway housing units – cottages located above the garages of the primary residences. These provide a more affordable option for vacationers such as myself, as well as additional space or a stream of income for the property owners.
The coastal portion of the development has two major public spaces, the Eastern and Western greens, with Main Street terminating at the Western Green. The greens serve as access points to the beach with more minor boardwalks providing additional access between the greens.
The one knock I have with Rosemary Beach, which can be seen across new urbanist developments (though Alys Beach has done a much better job in this regard) is with the prototypical lawn flanked by a path and dotted with a couple of benches [see upper photo of central lawn]. This overly simplistic design approach appears to be the norm in NU developments. With the recent NU/ Landscape Urbanism debates, there’s a lot that new urbanists could learn from landscape architects (especially those LAs that understand urbanism/ urban design).