Townhouses meet needs of demographic variety

Clustered homes show off latest building strategies

March 23, 2003|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

HENDERSON, NEV. — We don't build houses anymore. We build lifestyles for demographic markets.

We target a group - successful professional single women in their mid-40s, for example - and build houses designed to meet their requirements.

If we build them in the Nevada desert within sight of the glitter of Las Vegas, we make sure they have a view, including the chocolate-colored hills that pop out of the sand.

That sums up this year's New American Home, the National Council of the Housing Industry's showcase of new building technologies, products and marketing strategies.

This year's effort, at the Lake Las Vegas Resort in this sprawling suburb about 23 miles from the Las Vegas Convention Center, is three attached townhouses, clustered around a central courtyard.

John Ted Mahoney, a Massachusetts builder and council member, said this was the first townhouse project in the 20-year history of the New American Home.

"If you have three, it also gives ... a chance to show more products," Mahoney acknowledged.

The highlights: the view; the kitchens, designed by chef Todd English; and the way the indoor and outdoor spaces flow into one another.

One of the three-story townhouses was designed for empty-nesters, a group that often prefers or has physical need of one-story living.

Christina Farnsworth, senior editor of Builder magazine, noted that the smallest townhouse - designed for a family of three (including an 8-year-old daughter) - had no carpets, thus minimizing dust, and its furniture had fabrics that could be sponged off for easy cleaning.

The third townhouse was designed for a 44-year-old single woman.

Placing the townhouses around a central courtyard allowed the architect, RNM Architecture Planning, to create a "motor court" effect popular among builders in the West.

Outdoor living space has long been a feature of homes in the Southwest, and the technique has been finding takers in the Southeast as well as in the Middle Atlantic and Northeastern parts of the country, especially in resort areas.

In the three-story townhouses, every floor features some outdoor area that flows seamlessly from a home office, bedroom or living room.

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