Why it worked: Creative development in the heart of an older, high-status suburb promises "old-fashioned downtown living" in up-to-date new homes.
* Low-maintenance townhomes in a high-status Detroit suburb. It is the first large-scale residential development in Birmingham in 40 years. The first offering sold out in 90 days.
* Four-story brick units include two-car, rear-entry garages on first floor, main living space on second level, two bedrooms and two baths on the third floor, and open studio space with a cathedral ceiling on the top level.
* Future phases of the 9-acre development, previously the site of a lumberyard, include live/work condos and lofts, ensuring the area will maintain its downtown feel day and night.
* The empty-nesters who've purchased the townhomes are upgrading kitchen appliances to stainless steel, adding hardwood floors in the living and dining rooms, and refining their home's look with crown molding.
* The Birmingham location adds value to the home and should command higher resale prices than a development with a similar price point being built by the competition less than a mile away. The difference: The competition is building in the suburb next door. Older homes in Birmingham resell for $250 to $300 per square foot. Without the Birmingham address, that drops to $180 to $220 per square foot.
Project: Eton Street Station, Birmingham, Mich.; Sales started: September 2003; Sales through December 2003: 42 units; Units planned: 180: 49 townhomes, 60 work/live condos, 11 artisan lofts, 60 homes on top floor of three-story live/work buildings; Price: $349,900 for townhomes (No prices yet for other home types. They are planned for future stages over the next three years.); Unit size: 2,100 square feet for townhomes; Developer/Builder: Crosswinds Communities, Novi, Mich.; Architect: Progressive Associates, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Landscape architect: Gibbs Planning, Birmingham