Pocket neighborhoods are small on space but big on community. — Photo by Misha Gravenor
Fowler calls them "the parade of gawkers." Every night after dinner, as
she sits in the white wicker chaise on her front porch, she sees them
stream by to check out her cozy neighborhood-in-the-making.
The Carmel, Ind., nurse, 56, is not surprised that her sunny yellow
house, and the seven other two-story cottage-style homes in various
stages of completion, are attracting attention. Instead of a street
separating the $225,000-to-$400,000 homes that face one another, a
landscaped courtyard divides them. Visitors walk to the front door of
each home through a common walkway.
Although the houses are clustered together,
their layouts ensure privacy: The houses may be close, but if one has
large windows on one side, the wall of the house next door will be
windowless. Each cottage has a picket fence in front.
Eventually, the development, called Inglenook, will have 27 cottages
in groups of six or eight ranging from 1,000 to almost 2,200 square
Fowler, who bought the small three-bedroom home and shares it with
her best friend, Becky Meadows, 60, has not regretted her move from her
bigger house and yard. "This is beautifully designed, easier to maintain
and gives me more time to get to know my neighbors," she says.
Not that there are any yet. Fowler and Meadows are the new kids on the
block in fact, the only kids in Indiana's first pocket neighborhood.
Developer Casey Land is writing new contracts, so it's only a matter of
time before Fowler will chat with neighbors hanging out on their
porches. "I'm going to be part of a close-knit community where people
look out for one another, socialize and when needed, take care of each
other," says Fowler. "I fell in love with the concept."
Chances are, you will be hearing more about pocket neighborhoods.
This increasingly popular housing option generally consists of a dozen
or so compact houses or apartments that share common or green space.
That might be a pedestrian walkway, garden, courtyard or shared backyard
or alley. Central mailboxes give neighbors even more opportunities to
Backyards are typically small, with the focus on the front especially
those porches. Usually, pocket homes have an open floor plan and are
newly constructed, but could also be in an existing enclave. Regardless,
they are tucked into "pockets" of a neighborhood or part of a larger
new development, often near walkable destinations like shops and
Parking, you ask? Pockets may have a separate parking area or
attached garages, but they deemphasize the automobile mentality, where
drivers pull into garages and disappear into houses until it's time to
hop back into the car. Instead, the architecture emphasizes forming
relationships with neighbors.