by Dean Weaver
When I first visited the property along Route 42 just north of downtown, I saw potential in an under-utilized piece of land and did what every developer would–calculated the number of homes that could be built and weighed that against a quick projection of the cost to build the streets and infrastructure.
It seemed that the zoning was inappropriate for this parcel, so I looked closer and discovered another zoning classification recently adopted by the City was available. This zoning, R-7, addresses Master Planned Communities and adopts many of the New Urbanist principles I was already exploring– smaller, more intimate and sustainable neighborhoods within walking distance of entertainment, recreation, shopping and public transportation.
R7 resonated with me and the land began to take life. The property stopped being the land at the top of Collicello and became the neighborhood, Collicello North.
Collicello North is positioned to help reduce residents’ dependence on cars. Located at the edge of Harrisonburg’s downtown, near Eastern Mennonite University and the Technology Park, it is connected to public transportation routes and is within 1,000 feet of the projected path for the Northend Greenway biking and walking park.
I started the master plan for Collicello North by orienting smaller homes (1,000-1,800 SF) to take full advantage of the sun. The roof lines were designed so that photo voltaic panels become a natural extension of the structure. The homes will be high-quality construction with close attention to architectural details, energy efficient and EarthCraft-certified. The tree-lined streets are designed as much for the pedestrian as for vehicle traffic. The patios and courtyards provide private outdoor spaces while the porches connect spatially to the large center common area with open space, grass, trees, a pavilion and community garden.
Collicello North is currently in the rezoning stage with plans to break ground in Fall 2013. Watch for updates in early spring but in the meantime, I would welcome your comments. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org