Southern Living Home Awards
Best Planned Community
A visionary team of architects, builders, and developers has reclaimed and transformed a derelict two-block stretch in Beaufort, South Carolina's famed historic district.
What Makes This a Winner
Downtown Location Instead of creating another pop-up community out in the suburbs, Midtown Square rejuvenated a neglected area in Beaufort's downtown historic district. "People forget they can live in the city and walk places," says Homes Editor Jennifer Kopf. "I love that Midtown Square is bringing back that way of life." Now, residents are out of their cars, walking to nearby shops and businesses, engaging with neighbors, and building relationships.
Smart Planning The development team adopted an innovative form-based code, which, simply put, promotes the ideals of New Urbanism—creating walkable neighborhoods that are filled with an attractive mix of homes and buildings. By focusing on the bigger picture of neighborhood cohesion rather than structure-by-structure minutia, planners are able to create communities with distinct character rather than cookie cutters. "Variety is a very important factor in making a street seem natural," says architect Bill Harris.
Support from City Immediately after buying the property, the developers turned to the local Beaufort government for their cooperation. "The city really must be credited," says developer Steven Tully. "Luckily, they wanted to improve the neighborhood. Once they saw our plan's potential, they invested in the streetscape. Then the utility companies followed suit and improved the infrastructure." Without collaboration with and input from the city, Midtown Square could have been a collection of nice homes located on poorly maintained streets.
Timeless Architecture "This community serves as a model for responsible building and development in the heart of a beloved Southern town," says Editor Lindsay Bierman. "Instead of soulless McMansions or blocks of identical condos, the team dreamed up charming cottages that will only improve with age." And because no Southern home—new or old—would be complete without a front porch, the team gave each Midtown Square house its own defining entry.