Rosemary Fowler calls them “the parade of gawkers.” Every night after dinner, as he 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 feet.
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.”
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
interact. 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 restaurants.
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
persed geographically and
people are living longer
and healthier lives, pocket
neighborhoods are a way
to feel connected, reduce
costs, simplify—sort of like
a condominium without
shared walls—and feel safer.
Few burglars want to mess
with caring, sharp-eyed
Housing experts see the
popularity of pockets as a reaction to sprawling, car-cen-tric suburbia and the conveniences of urban living.
“It’s not just people saying,
‘Oh, I love these cute little
houses,’ ” says Ben Brown, a
North Carolina-based community design consultant.
“What’s driving the trend is
aging Americans who can’t
live in faraway suburbs and
younger people from Generation Y who prefer to live
close in to town.” AARP’s
The survey also found that boomers are attracted to communities that remind them of the past.
The lifestyle of pocket neighborhoods, where
everybody knows your name, is a throwback to
yesteryear. In 2006, Dave Hundhausen, 72, and
his wife, Pat, 71, moved from Waukesha, Wis., to
Umatilla Hill, a neighborhood in Port Townsend,
Wash. The couple own one of 15 bungalows sharing a common green.
“We love it!” says Dave, a retired college pro-
Third Street Cottages on Whid-bey Island, Wash., designed by
Ross Chapin Architects, features eight houses built on four
single-family lots, surrounding
shared green space.
Chances are, you will be hearing more about
pocket neighborhoods. This increasingly popular
housing option generally consists of a dozen or so
While the concept is appealing to all ages, it’s
Ground By Sally Abrahms
particularly popular with the 50- and 60-year-
old set. “Pocket neighborhoods are an excellent
fit for the boomer generation,” says architect
Ross Chapin, author of Pocket Neighborhoods:
Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-
Scale World. “Not only are people looking for
alternatives to the suburban model, but boom-
ers want smaller, smarter, community-oriented
At a time when families can be widely dis-