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Ruskin

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About Ruskin

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  1. Just checked back in. Boy, I sure thought that the "Fight the Power" comment would be understood as tongue-in-cheek, which was exactly how it was meant. After all, how much are you really fighting the power by trying to get a curb finish approved?? Also, I will defend sustainable a bit. The original point about putting the staff in an awkward position is legitimate, altough I disagree about the durability and safety points.
  2. I really appreciate the kind words. I also apologize in advance that we will be messing up the traffic for a few weeks while widening the road. Afterwards it ought to greatly reduce the burden of traffic coming into and leaving the neighborhood, but the construction will be a pain for a bit.
  3. At the end of December, we FINALLY received a permit from the the highway department to widen Highway 45. According to our Conditions of Approval with the City, we have to complete the highway improvements before we can receive final plat and, therefore, can begin vertical construction. The bureaucratic process has cost us a few months, but it looks like that time will likely be the bottom of a lousy real estate market and it gave us time to finalize our architectural plans. More importantly, we will be opening sales in the next two weeks or so. I'll let you know when we firm up the date. Finally, during the time that I have written this note, we have published the beta version of our new web site (Ruskin Heights). We will be continually popluting the site with useful information over the next several weeks.
  4. This may be true, I don't know. It would still be a huge step if they did. Fayetteville's lead has been inconsistent at best.
  5. If Bentonville adopts a Form Based Code, they will blow past Fayetteville with regards to the quality of new development. City Plan 2025 in Fayetteville addresses the concepts, a Form Based Code makes sure they are implemented. http://nwanews.com/bcdr/News/62241/
  6. Wow you were up early! That interview was live, by the way. Nothing like a 3:45 alarm clock to start the day. We are working hard on all the LEED stuff right now and will submit for LEED-Neighborhood Design within the next week. We also are pulling together our LEED for Homes upgrade for people who want to choose that option. This time next year I hope we have a majority of the LEED certified homes in the state in Ruskin Heights. By the way, when are you stopping by our office (on site up the gravel road off of Greenview)? I would think you would enjoy a walkthrough of the neighborhood. Ward
  7. Frankly, I think all we need is to provide a local example of a great New Urban neighborhood. It is important to remember that many people don't "choose" to live in in suburbs. Instead their housing choices have been severely limited by Euclidean zoning and traffic engineering based on a hierarchy of streets. Until recently, in fact, it was illegal to build mixed use, mixed housing type, and walkable neighborhoods and it still requires a more rigorous approval process than sprawl subdivisions.
  8. Where to begin, where to begin... First, I appreciate the positive comment about the neighborhood in the first paragraph. I hope you get a chance to spend some time at Ruskin Heights once it gets built (or stop by to chat about it any time for that matter - our office is on site). On to the comments that I disagree with and I'll take the easy one first - Anyone who paid any attention to our approval process will know that including a variety of homes at a variety of price points is PRECISELY what was being fought by the opposition (which was almost exclusively immediate neighbors). A lot of people pay lip service to wanting "affordable housing" but no one wants it near them. (This isn't an indictment - I think if we are honest with ourselves most of us will admit that we don't want someone building something much cheaper next door to us despite our moral and political ideals.) As for Ruskin Heights, one of our main concessions was to discard two thirds of our "cottage homes", which were small, 1,400 square foot homes that reached a price point that is currently unattainable in the Root School District. Now to the more broad points about New Urbanism. Both of these comments have a basis in reality, but I strongly disagree with the conclusions: 1. New Urbanism is aimed at the more affluent classes a) Basis in reality - Most new developments are aimed at affluent people. Furthermore, even a larger percentage of developments that require the detailed attention that a well designed New Urban neighborhood requires are aimed at affluent people. This is not a New Urban phenomenon, but a new development phenomenon. b) Further basis in reality - New Urban developments have appreciated dramatically. Studies performed by two different tract home builders (Morrission Homes and Whittaker Homes) that build the exact same home models in conventional subdivisions and New Urban neighborhoods have found that the homes in the New Urban neighborhoods sell at up to a 23% premium and appreciate, on average, 17% more quickly (which is amazing considering the premium paid in the first place). c) Incorrect conclusion - New Urbanism is aimed at affluent people. Actually New Urban communities are particularly well suited to accomodating a wide range of incomes (and lifestyles for that matter). By providing a wide range of home sizes and types, a wider range of people can live in the neighborhood. It is as simple as that. The fact that they generate a premium valuation and appreciate so quickly is a measure of desire for this type of neighborhood relative to the severely limited supply, not a target market issue. 2. New Urbanism is based on an ideal of what pre-automobile America's neighborhoods were like. a) Basis in reality - New Urban neighborhoods are more pedestrian oriented and make a concerted effort to reduce dependence on automobiles b) Incorrect conclusion - New Urbanism is based on pre-automobile America's neighborhoods. First, New Urbanism draws heavily from European and Asian neighborhoods so it isn't based just on American anything. Much more importantly, New Urbanism doesn't ignore automobiles, it seeks to more appropriately balance their role in our culture (i.e., you shouldn't have to get in your car to take care of every little task such as grabbing a gallon of milk or buying an ice cream cone). Again, I love talking about this stuff so stop by any time. Ward
  9. Ugh. I read back through the threads and found out that NWAnewby is definitely not a disinterested 3rd party (obviously, the person used my home computer). I am definitely embarrassed by the posts because they are misleading.
  10. Quick correction to mzweig's post: We sold out the pre-sales target number of units for Phase 1 months ago (our target was 10% of the phase, but we sold 20% in a week and a half of returning phone calls - only one house per buyer, so not just a lot of builder reservations). We will be offering the remainder of Phase 1 beginning at the end of January or beginning of February when we have finalized the architecture for the units we are building, the architectural code for the lots, the neighborhood covenants, etc. Ward
  11. The affordability concern is legitimate - if you have to have a 3,500+ square foot single family detached home. The homes at Ruskin Heights will not be cheap per square foot, nor would you expect them to be given the quality of design, construction, public spaces, and amenities. However, the neighborhood is designed to accommodate a wide range of lifestyles and incomes. Interestingly, only 28 percent of households in the U.S. include a couple with children, while over 50 percent of households are only one or two individuals. At Ruskin Heights we will offer a wide variety of housing choices from small condo lofts to large single family homes. Even among the single family homes there will a wide range. For instance, the first phase will include seven 1,400 square foot bungalows surrounding a fantastic shared courtyard. If a buyer is most concerned with the amount of gross square footage they can get for their dollar, then they may want a hollow core door McMansion in Rogers. If they want to be part of an interesting and vibrant community and would prefer a smaller home with more refined details, then they might want to look at Ruskin Heights.
  12. Our contractor, Northwest Excavation (a division of Nabholz), begins mobilization, demolition, tree preservation, and erosion control on Monday (October 1). We will have a ground breaking party in the next month or so, but will be well under way by then. Ward
  13. The web site is VERY preliminary at this point (basically a working draft) since we are a pretty long way from hard-core marketing. That being said, I appreciate the feedback. We WILL have a skip intro button. Aporkolypse - I know I am a New Urbanism snob, but the comparison to Brodie Creek is pretty painful. That project is a prime example of putting small lots and alleys in what is basically another sprawl neighborhood - wide streets, poor pedestrian orientation, no mixed use, no diversity of unit types (or inhabitants for that matter), and I think the architecture and home quality are not great on top of that. Most importantly, there is nothing about Brodie Creek to give it a sense of "Place." Right now, before anything is built, we have a lot of folks trying to compare Ruskin Heights to other new neighborhoods in Arkansas. Truthfully, Ruskin Heights will be a lot more like Hillcrest than Brodie Creek in Little Rock.
  14. Come one, come all!! Now that it is a job site, we have moved our office into the house on the top of the hill. Stop by any time! Ward
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