Saturday, April 16, 2011
First, I think it's important to note that I'd like to stay in West Philly. I think that's pretty cool - to be so happy with where you are that even with unlimited funds and resources you'd like to stay put. (Of course hopefully there would also be a ton of travel, but that's for another post.)
I'd begin by buying an entire block. Ideally with mostly abandoned homes that are structurally sound, but need a lot of work. The homes on the four corners would be larger homes (maybe five bedrooms?) and one would be reserved for us. The connecting homes (mostly row homes here that are side-to-side with no space in between) would be smaller, probably 1-3 bedrooms.
Each of the homes would be really nice - well insulated with central air, fireplaces, hard wood floors, balconies/porches, top of the line appliances, open floor plans, multiple bathrooms, lots of natural light, high ceilings and outfitted with super comfy furniture.
I'd love to incorporate environmentally friendly and money saving features, like solar panels, reuse of grey water, dual flush toilets, radiant floor heating - we'll have an expert on site for consultation as we build. ;)
At one end of the block would be a gate and in the middle of all the homes would be a courtyard. An area for dogs, a small pond with fish, perhaps a swimming pool (ok, so it would be a really big block...), patio with a state of the art grill, clubhouse for kids, maybe a swing set, grassy lawn, and of course raised beds with flowers and vegetables complete with compost.
At the other end of the block would be a big common area - kind of like a rec center. Large television, dvd collection, indoor toys, a huge kitchen stocked with drinks and snacks, big comfy couches, a pool table, maybe some air hockey, books, craft supplies, office area with printers, scanners and other supplies (for work from home people), tables for homework, projects or just conversation and lots of little "corners" for people to be able to break out into smaller groups.
I have a pretty clear picture (obviously) of what I'd like to see out of this structure - but I'd need to hire an awesome team of fantastic architects to figure out some of the holes - like parking. I'm sure they will have phenomenal suggestions for things I haven't even thought of. Oh! Maybe a fountain!
I'd love to fill these homes with our family and dearest friends. Each sibling could have their own apartment (or could pair up as roommates if they wanted). Our parents would be nearby, but could have their own space. Any of our friends brave enough to live amongst our clan would be welcome to move in - hopefully we'd get enough families with kids to make a gang of trouble-makers. Of course if we had the amount of money necessary to bankroll this we wouldn't need to charge rent, but would have a coop sign up for chilcare, maintenence and basic community needs.
I sound insane, don't I? Still, I think it would be lovely. I love the idea of living with (but at the same time not living with) our entire family - and choosing a close knit group of people to form our tribe. I totally believe that it takes a village, and I think it would be so cool to formalize ours.
If you care to hear more, I'd love to talk your ear off about our plans to buy up the surrounding blocks to make storefronts and have small businesses apply to land a spot in the amazing new spaces where they can spend the first year rent-free to establish themselves. It would eventually be a good money-maker, would help out small businesses and would provide us with the kinds of amenities we'd like nearby. There would be a convenience store (a la Milk and Honey), a coffee shop, a few diverse restaurants, a doggie daycare, a yoga studio, consignment store, bookstore, maybe a bowling alley....