DAVIDSON – Residents who prefer to drive into their garages and go inside without any interaction with neighbors shouldn’t consider moving into the new neighborhood being built on Delburg Street.
Construction by John Marshall Custom Homes has begun on the town’s first “pocket neighborhood,” Carnegie Mews on Delburg Street, designed to not only enhance, but also emphasize, community and social interaction. The neighborhood consists of 15 homes on 2.81 acres surrounding a small park and a clubhouse.
The idea of a pocket neighborhood was initiated by architect Ross Chapin and resonated with developer Rodney Graham. He recalls his previous Huntersville home where the backyard was the family gathering point with no connectivity to his neighbors.
“When we moved in, we had a get together to meet our neighbors and we wound up introducing them to each other,” he said, adding at the time the house appealed to them, but later interaction was priority. Moving to the end of a street in the Davidson St. Alban's neighborhood, Graham said they put up a basketball goal and firepit out in the front.
“It brought people out and closer together,” Graham said. “We almost entirely ignored our backyard and still do.”
Reminiscent of Charleston or Savannah blocks, the lots in Carnegie Mews are purposely small and close together with many facing the park instead of the road. Houses are cottage style, slated to be 1,500-2,500 square feet. With estimated sales prices of low $300,000s to $500,000s, Graham said residents are getting a well-built house with a large front porch and traditional, historic feel that is Energy Star and LEED-certified.
“It’s a nice house,” Graham said of the cost. “It’s not just granite countertops, steel appliances and hardwood floors. It’s the way the house is built. It will last a long time.”
Garages are unattached so people have to walk from their cars to get into their houses, again encouraging interaction. While certain fences are allowed, Graham said there are restrictions. Privacy fences, for instance, go against the mission of the neighborhood.
The community aspect extends from within the neighborhood. Within a mile, residents can walk to nearby grocery stores, restaurants, Davidson College, the library, post office and downtown. Keeping with the town’s walkability and connectivity initiatives, the neighborhood paths also offer connections to neighboring streets, Graham said. If children live there all their lives, they could theoretically walk to all of their schools, as well.
“What makes it great is the location,” he said.
Currently, two-thirds of the homes are spoken for, though at one time, all of them were.
Because it is a new concept for the town, Graham said it took longer than expected to get approved. They had to go into uncharted territory, like asking for the sewer to be under the park instead of the street as is customary.
Since the company is named for his son, Graham also gave nods to his wife and daughter, naming the streets Emma Claire Lane and Melissa Ann Way after them, adding more of the family feel.
“The neighborhood appeals to a broad range of people who like a sense of community,” Graham said. “There is green space for families and kids playing. If they are wanting privacy and not wanting people around, then this is not for them.”