Smart Growth Illustrated
East Lake Commons, Decatur, Georgia
East Lake Commons, a co-housing development, is an excellent example of how communities can protect existing open space while also providing a desirable place to live.
The development, planned by Greg Ramsey of Village Habitat Design, is only four miles from downtown Atlanta, on 21 acres with 11 acres protected as open space. During project development, future residents participated in the design. They requested that open space be preserved to serve several community and environmental functions. As a result, East Lake Commons includes a village green, a wildlife habitat corridor surrounding a protected spring, a six-acre organic garden, and a small orchard.
Completed in 2000, the project features 67 homes, ranging from two-bedroom to four-bedroom semi-custom town homes. Five percent of the houses were designated as affordable. The homes are clustered together around pedestrian paths with parking on the periphery. The design encourages the residents to walk and bike, provides easy access to local public transportation, and protects walkers and bicyclists from auto traffic. The community also has an option for "lease-on-demand" vehicles, which allows residents to rent vehicles by the hour when they need them. The environmentally friendly design also includes energy-efficient homes and a stormwater management system that treats polluted runoff. Despite being located in a blighted neighborhood, the project enjoyed 100% preselling of its homes and has a waiting list of people to buy any homes up for resale.
East Lake Commons won the 2000 Annual World Habitat Awards of the Building and Social Housing Foundation of Leichestershire, England. The project also won the 2001 American Institute of Architects/Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary's Award for Mixed Use/Mixed Income projects.