Not every lover of modern living wants, or can afford, to buy a mid-century classic or live in a suburban tract. We are increasingly an urban nation, and the cultural, economic, and social appeals of the city burn ever more brightly as legions of Americans move back into town.
Those heading into the city can find good values in modern multiunit complexes, many of which take a commitment to green design and fostering a sense of community to heart. Jeff Krolicki, senior associate for Dick Clark Architecture in Austin, Texas, provided the newly hip South Congress neighborhood with a local landmark: the 04 Lofts, a five-story, steel-framed structure sided with glass and local bricks. Units range from a 980-square-foot studio to the two-bedroom penthouses, still rather modest at 1,600 feet apiece, though each has a garden or balcony and access to the communal roof deck. Krolicki credits the developers for not maximizing the project’s square footage, which allowed him to preserve the site’s mature oaks. And to promote pedestrianism in this mixed-use space, parking is in a separate building.
The 04 Lofts are infill at its best. Residents walk to restaurants, bars, galleries, and shops. The condos, which are in a new building, are part of a mixed-use development that includes a grocer, a restaurant, stores, and professional offices in a renovated car dealership. The developer “wanted a building that looked like it had been there forever,” and envisioned it as something traditional, Krolicki says. “But modern is more appropriate to that area.”
One of South Congress’s big events is an annual hot rod show, a fact that helped sway one of the developers, who collects vintage cars. “There’s a rockabilly feeling to South Congress,” Krolicki says. “That’s part of its charm.”
Dave Weinstein is a freelance writer who penned the "Modern Real Estate 101" article that appeared in the October 2009 issue. He spends his spare time walking his spaniel through architecturally interesting neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area and is an active preservationist, most notably for his hometown's art deco jewel, the Cerrito Theater.
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