Construction is close to finished on Black Apple, a small residential development in Bentonville, Ark., that squeezes 11 high-performance homes onto a 1-acre lot close to the city's downtown area. The homes range in size from 850 square feet to 1,750 square feet, a long way off from the median size of a new home, which was 2,453 square feet in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The homes are built with pre-insulated concrete foundations, steel framing, and structurally insulated panels (SIPs) sheathed with magnesium oxide board, all of which lead to a shorter build time and better building performance. The homes will also be 85% more energy efficient than a typical home of comparable size.
The community was designed by Falls Church, Va.–based design-build firm GreenSpur, but is the brainchild of Christy Walton, the daughter-in-law of Walmart founder Sam Walton. According to GreenSpur founder Mark Turner, Walton got the inspiration for Black Apple after reading Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small Scale Community in a Large Scale World (Taunton Press, 2011), by Ross Chapin, AIA. Pocket neighborhoods have popped up in several states, including Massachusetts, Arizona, Indiana, and Oregon. Walton, who has a home in Arkansas (Walmart’s corporate headquarters is in Bentonville) but spends much of her life in Jackson, Wyo., thought a pocket community would do well in Bentonville, but she wanted something besides the typical cottage aesthetic.