flexiblefullpage - default
Currently Reading

Walkable Pocket Neighborhoods That Keep It Simple

billboard - default
House Plans

Walkable Pocket Neighborhoods That Keep It Simple

Walkable neighborhoods are popular now across market segments, with increasing interest in simple pocket neighborhoods consisting of smaller homes, with an emphasis on people, not cars 

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer January 15, 2016
Pocket neighborhood home designed by Donald F. Evans: Beach Cottages
Donald F. Evans Beach Cottages elevation
This article first appeared in the PB January 2016 issue of Pro Builder.

A neighborhood that’s walkable is one of the most important items on prospective buyers’ checklists right now, across market segments. While pedestrian-friendly developments typically include retail, office, and housing, there’s increasing interest in simple pocket neighborhoods that consist of smaller homes, with an emphasis on people rather than automobiles. Here, cars are often relegated to secondary locations, allowing residents to stroll through common courtyards, interacting with neighbors during the walk to and from home. In areas where attached garages are still deemed necessary, garages can be set on a rear lane. In many ways, the new pocket neighborhoods are a look back to residential planning and building of yore, before the automobile dominated. A return to narrow streets, wide sidewalks safe for walking and biking, and roomy front porches appears to be gaining favor. With an idea as innovative as a pocket neighborhood, it’s important to adjust the details to suit your specific market. While each of the following concepts handles the automobile differently, each pays plenty of attention to the value of walkability. 


Beach Cottages

This small site on the Atlantic coast, situated among very high-end custom homes, led us to create a quaint community of seven three-story cottages. Designed in a Coastal Craftsman style with an appropriate color palette, these homes are tall enough to afford views of the ocean over the sand dunes that provide privacy on the first floor. The homes feature three bedrooms, 3½ baths, and a den.

Streetscape view: See main image, above

Partial site plan: See below










The Park View

This entry won a competition sponsored by the city of Menlo Park, Calif., to convert a vacant 6-acre industrial site into a residential community. The site juts into the edge of an existing working-class neighborhood from an adjacent, unused railway. Requirements included a 1-acre park open to the surrounding community and at least 47 single-family homes. The park is centered on the site with one side open to the existing neighborhood. On the other three sides sit new homes with front porches overlooking the park. Some lots are as small as 3,000 square feet, to achieve density. Six floor plans are available, and all houses have front porches and garages pulled back from the front façades. Because the rail line is slated to become the alignment for California’s high-speed train, houses at the site’s rear must meet acoustic requirements.









Apricot Commons—Blenheim

This three-story, single-family housing development is on a 1.4-acre lot in a lively Silicon Valley suburb near a freeway transition road. A dedicated bioswale at the center will serve as a pocket park and gathering place for families. Inspired by Bay Area architects Julia Morgan and Ernest Coxhead, the homes were designed in a Spanish style to attract affluent high-tech couples. The largest of four plans has been organized for a young family while affording ample space to grow into. Each home has a private side yard created by a reciprocal-use easement with its neighbor, providing extra storage and barbecue areas.



















The Empty Nest

This infill community of six paired homes is ideal for the lock-and-leave buyer. Big function is packed into small square footage: a pocket office (everything essential for the business of life is steps away), a family foyer with hooks and cubbies, a walk-in pantry, access from the master closet to the laundry, and a sitting alcove in the owner’s suite. Even the pets are provided for in this plan. A private fenced courtyard provides the outdoor space needed for outdoor dining, grilling, and Fido (buyers in this category are very likely to have a dog). The “Goldfinch” and the “Chickadee” create the perfect empty nest. 


Rough Creek

Several parcels of land adjacent to existing homes allowed the creation of a pocket neighborhood featuring 11 cottages that range from 950 to 1,800 square feet. Each home has two parking spaces, one of which is in an enclosed garage. As residents walk from their cars through the common courtyard or along a sidewalk, there is opportunity to visit with neighbors who are relaxing on their front porches. The narrow streets are designed to provide inset guest parking in addition to slowing down traffic speed, ensuring a pedestrian-friendly environment. A nearby walking trail leads to a neighborhood park. 

















leaderboard2 - default

Related Stories


See Interior Designer Bobby Berk's Latest Collaboration With Tri Pointe Homes

In an exclusive video for Pro Builder, interior design expert and Emmy-winning TV host Bobby Berk introduces his latest designs for Tri Pointe Homes


2023 BALA Winners: The Best of the Best

You'll find plenty of inspiration in these four award-winning projects from the Best in American Living Awards


What Gen-Z Buyers Really Want in a Home

The fervor of planning for Millennials in the home building industry has now pivoted to Gen Z. So, what does this new generation want?

boombox1 -
native1 - default
halfpage2 -

More in Category

Home builders can maximize efficiencies gained through simplification and standardization by automating both on-site and back-office operations 

Delaware-based Schell Brothers, our 2023 Builder of the Year, brings a refreshing approach to delivering homes and measuring success with an overriding mission of happiness

NAHB Chairman's Message: In a challenging business environment for home builders, and with higher housing costs for families, the National Association of Home Builders is working to help home builders better meet the nation's housing needs

native2 - default
halfpage1 -

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.