By Carolyn Weber Most stories about infill projects usually begin with a sad recounting of prolonged entitlement processes and battles with angry NIMBYs resistant to change. Fortunately, the tale of the Myers Park City Homes has a happy beginning as well as ending. The only double Grand Award winner this year, the Simonini Builders' project in Charlotte, N.C., was a hit with neighbors who were grateful to rid their community of the dirt yards and shabby rental housing that once occupied the eight-acre site.
The prime location is near a hospital and on the edge of Myers Park, one of the city's best neighborhoods. Although it was already zoned for duplexes, an old deed restriction only allowed for a single front door to the street. So architect Sam Greeson designed this high-density product to look like single-family homes. Articulated with historical accuracy, the stately brick colonials with white columns and black shutters complement the surrounding neighborhood. Simonini also preserved 63 mature willow oaks on the site.
"The architecture is exactly what the homeowners association was looking for and what the zoning would allow," says builder Alan Simonini. "Everyone I run into compliments us on how it's improved the neighborhood."
The traditional look is carried inside the 1,585- to 3,901-square-foot plans, which are complete with 10-foot first-floor ceilings, oak flooring, crown molding, and granite and stainless steel kitchens. Buyers have been customizing the plans, many choosing to sacrifice a formal living room to make room for a first-floor master bedroom. Older buyers have also added elevators, bumping the price up about $22,000.
The common denominator among buyers of the $379,900 to $827,900 units is no children. Young couples and empty-nesters are attracted to the low maintenance and convenience of walking to restaurants, parks, and shopping. Simonini thinks that the boxy, efficient plans are a great infill solution and, with a switch of exterior materials and details, could translate to any market in the country. "If you really blend the design into the neighborhood you won't get resistance," says the builder. "The problems start when people try to bring California to North Carolina."
Categories: Attached community; Infill community; Entrant/Builder: Simonini Builders, Charlotte, N.C.; Developer: Killian/Simonini, Charlotte; Architect/Landscape Architect: Meyer-Greeson-Paullin, Charlotte; Land Planner: Oldham Planning & Design Associates, Charlotte; Interior Designer: Barbara Fisher Interiors, Charlotte
The duplexes (17 in all) are grouped in twos and surround a shared motor court. Front units have the full 70-foot width of the lot and a front door that faces the street. Entries to the rear units face the interior court. This arrangement allows each resident to have a two-car garage as well as a private outdoor garden.