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Rosemary Beach

One of my favorite places to vacation is the beach so just imagine my delight when I discovered a place that combined surf and sand with gardening. Rosemary Beach on the Gulf Coast in Florida is a beautiful blend of Caribbean style architecture, gardens and green spaces.

I recently spoke with architect Richard Gibbs about this unique coastal community.

Allen - Now, this is a fantastic view. Richard, what is it about Rosemary Beach that makes it feel so much like a community?

Richard Gibbs - Allen, this was designed as a TND, which stands for traditional neighborhood development, and the essence of that design provides for a walking plan. So you can literally go out your front door and walk to downtown in five minutes, do some shopping, go to the beach. It's a very easy place to get around on foot, not so easy in the automobile. In fact, cars are encouraged to stay off the streets and to stay in the carriage houses.

Allen - So the whole community is really built for humans, not cars.

Richard - Exactly.

Allen - What a concept.

Richard - Right, our streets are very narrow, and it's not easy to drive around, but it's very easy to walk or bicycle-ride. You may notice that all the homes here in Rosemary Beach have porches or balconies. That, in fact, is required by our building code. The porches are an important element of any walking community. People sit out and talk to their neighbors as they go by. It also provides shade and some protection from this harsh environment. You'll also notice that the homes are a combination of wood and stucco or all wood and all stucco. The look is very much taken from New Orleans architecture and inspired also by St. Augustine, Florida, on the east coast.

Allen - Now, I know within the whole planned community, there are a lot of public spaces, green spaces, or greens.

Richard - Exactly. We have a great example here behind us. It's a park with playground equipment, and the homes all face it, and it provides open space for these very, very tight lots so you don't feel that you're closed in on all sides.

Allen - You know, I think some of the signature structures here are very striking, such as the town hall, which speaks to the fact that this is a community. It is a township.

Richard - Exactly. We built the town hall first as developers to signal that this place was, indeed, different from a typical subdivision. A town hall, of course, is not a money generator for a developer, but we wanted to show off and show that we were different and, indeed, a real place.