A Georgia man is moving into a loft--in a brand-new suburb:
But his loft isn't in a century-old factory building on a gritty inner-city block. It's in a new development in rural Palmetto, Ga., surrounded by meadows, stables and an organic farm that will grow things like asparagus and edible flowers. "It's my little piece of New York," says Sickles. "But New York is too urban for me."
Coming to a subdivision near you: the McLoft. Amid ranch houses and McMansions, developers are putting up buildings that look like they're out of downtown Manhattan or Chicago. Unlike urban lofts, which started out as last-resort housing for arty types, these condos can be some of the priciest housing in suburbia. Instead of stepping out into sidewalks where vendors peddle gyro sandwiches and counterfeit handbags, residents are just minutes from mountain-bike trails or the mall. And while city lofts are known for creaky freight elevators and exposed ventilation ducts, their country cousins come with floating faucets, bidets and designer kitchens.
Developers say they're targeting the 78 million Boomers who are poised to enter retirement and may be ready to trade down from a big home and a yard.
The loft in question is located in Serenbe, a new master-planned community outside of Atlanta. Instead of a golf course or racquet club, Serenbe (the name combines the words "serenity" and "be") boasts an organic farm at its center. The "hamlet" also boasts progressive environmental controls that minimize its impact on the land. The concept is a genius combination that is equal parts Mother Jones and Seaside (Toll Brothers, take note):
Where else can you live like this? In a community of bright, creative neighbors, people who are thinking and talking about things that matter. A community of hamlets connected by looping country roads and well-worn footpaths that make walking easier than getting in a car. A community of private gardens and public farms. And trails for walking, hiking and biking that connect with a future 98-mile regional greenway system. This is the kind of place where you’ll have an equestrian center and the freedom to ride for miles right outside your back door and, for that matter, right up to the coffee shop. Where you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor performances, films, lectures and readings in the community amphitheatre. Where you can stargaze with your neighbors at the celestial observation deck. Where you can gather around a community bonfire at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable day. Serenbe is all that and more, with the big-city cultural life of Atlanta just 45 minutes away. Not to mention an international airport even closer than that.
As if on cue, an article about how people subconsciously look for symbols of personal and shared history when shopping for real estate:
As architecture and interior design buffs know, people generally look for places that represent who they are — or who they would like to be. "The dwelling is a symbol of the self," said David Seamon, an environment-behavior researcher and professor of architecture at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. "In that sense the house both avows the self and reveals the self."