I have a test I apply to a neighborhood.
If you can’t prepare dinner without getting into your car, then it fails the test of livability.
Broadly stated, it’s the idea that you should be able to get the minimum services in where you live within a mile of the house. If you take the “I’ll Walk A Mile” as being the limit that you’d want to walk in order to make dinner, then Wilton Manors almost completely meets that test.
There are some small areas in the West End of town that you would have to go further than a mile to obtain groceries, and there may be other pockets here and there, but easily it is more than 80 or 90 percent of the city that is within that mile limit.
What brought this to mind is that I watched Kevin make Spaghetti Sauce this weekend. When we make it, it’s from scratch. You need two kinds of tomatoes, oregano, basil, spices and a lot of time. May as well make up a lot of the stuff since the recipe is excellent, so we can the resulting sauce.
All of the ingredients are within a walkable 1/2 mile from my house. There is no reason to get in the car for that sort of thing other than the occasional weather front or laziness. Since the crime rate here is Roughly Average for cities in the United States, I don’t have to worry about having tomatoes stolen by some rogue tomato thief.
The worst thing I have to worry about is traffic. Walking along Wilton Drive is bad enough, it is currently a raceway and there’s a big discussion as to whether to narrow the Drive. The vast number of residents are in favor of it, the businesses on Wilton Drive are largely in favor of it, and the benefits are fairly obvious. Increased parking will pay for itself within about 2 years as well as lowered speeds on Wilton Drive mean that it’s a greatly more liveable city. The hope is that it will happen soon and that the sidewalks that are there will be widened since it can be a minefield to walk around the outdoor cafe’s that are crammed in between palm trees and light poles.
What brought this to mind is that I am lucky to live in an exception in the Sunbelt. Most areas are largely sprawl. Unmanageable by foot since there are rarely enough sidewalks and the distances are too great to get what you need even if you have a personal shopping cart to wheel your purchases home.
When I chose to live in an area, this sort of urban or newurbanist lifestyle was one of the first things I looked for. There are always some drawbacks, but living near shops have always given me a huge benefit as a result.
After all these years of living like this, being able to simply walk out of the door and off to the shops when we forgot the basil or need dessert is something I don’t want to lose.
I am not alone in appreciating this sort of New Urbanist lifestyle. The property values here last year appreciated where most of the county were either “flat” or declined in a down market. The inventory of homes for sale in Wilton Manors is so tight that prices are starting to sound more “normal” after years of major losses.
Of course each little area has its own character, this one is one I fell into. There are other areas that have the same amenities in them, and each of those areas are more popular than those that are lacking them.
I guess that is really what they mean by the old Real Estate Maxim of “Location, Location, Location”. Luckily, we have our Location in the sun.