Mueller gets a lot of criticism -- see the grouchy comments to this entry -- much of it unfair. I like Mueller. I do agree, though, that it is not a model mixed-use, New Urbanist development. Among other things, there is too much segregation of single-family and multi-family/commercial.
So let me offer an example of a model New Urbanist development. Aragon is an infill development in Pensacola designed by Michelle MacNeil (who happens to be my cousin). It's several years old, but I got my first tour in August when we visited her during a trip to the Gulf Coast.
One of the most significant features of Aragon is its location. Many New Urbanist developments are suburban greenfield developments or massive redevelopments of abandoned industrial land or airports (Mueller and Stapleton, for example).
Aragon is a true infill development. It is just a few blocks east of downtown Pensacola and directly north of Pensacola's Seville neighborhood, which dates to the turn of the 19th century. One of the challenges, Michelle explained, was integrating the neighborhood with the Seville neighborhood, providing a smooth transition from the old to the new.
Here is a shot with the god-awful convention center (aren't they all?) in the background.
Although every home in Aragon can be built-out as two-family, it is mostly single-family, which matches the density of the Seville neighborhood. But it does a better job of mixing different types of housing and other uses than Mueller, and much better than standard suburban tract developments.
Here are row houses lining one of the main streets:
These are true row houses, unlike the row houses at Mueller, which are actually four-plex condominiums. Each of these sits on a separate lot owned in fee simple. Lot owners build what they want -- subject to a detailed set of design criteria.
Here are the same row houses from the rear:
Allowing each home owner to choose his style gives the row a more varied, interesting appearance than Mueller's standardized four-plexes. (This photo was taken from the rear balcony of one of the most expensive houses in Aragon, by the way.)
Around the corner from the row houses are live-work units (sorry for the bad picture; the sun was shining right in the camera lens):
Top residential, bottom commercial/retail/office.
Parking is in the rear, connected by alleys:
The rear parking lot is . . . just a parking lot. Nothing special. But when parking is relegated to the rear, it doesn't have to be.
Speaking of mixed-use, all (or almost all -- I don't remember) of the homes can can be used as offices. This business sits on what is otherwise a purely residential street:
The architecture matches the Southern architecture of the old neighborhoods to the south:
This not tract housing, by the way. Lot owners can hire their own architects and builders but, again, must comply with detailed design criteria.
And the criteria are quite specific. These large homes lining a crescent park are required to be three-stories tall. (Note a couple of unbuilt lots.)
This green is lined with much less expensive homes.
These houses are actually quite small and close together. In order to minimize the sense of crowding, the architectural regulations require that eaves and balconies and porches line up precisely:
The porches, too:
The uniform lines trick the eye, preventing it from easily spotting where one house begins and the other ends. As a bonus, the "wall" of housing makes the green a cozier, more inviting space.
Another technique for creating the illusion of space is to make good use of the space between homes. Usually, this is where the air conditioner units go. But the homes along one street are separated from one another by side yards:
The neighborhood is a pleasant place to walk. It's got good sidewalks, nice green space, etc. But the sheer variety of housing, the fine mixture of styles and sizes, makes the place visually interesting. Almost every spot in the neighborhood provides such a vantage point; no block has the dull uniformity that's created by strictly segregated housing types. Unfortunately, that's hard to capture with a camera:
One thing good infill does is beget more good infill. This is a new multi-family development just down the street:
Here is the property to the immediate west:
This is one of Pensacola's oldest cemeteries. If you want a rough metric to separate true infill from faux infill, distance from an old cemetery is probably as good as any other.
Finally, this space at the southeast corner is reserved for a pure commercial and retail center:
(That's Pensacola Bay in the background.)
The space is still green, of course. Development has been stalled by the collapse of the credit markets. But attracting commercial development has always been the Achilles heel of New Urbanist developments. HEB and A&P and Walmart want their big asphalt parking lots. I think Aragon has a much better chance of seeing infill commercial development than most, though, because it's smack in the middle of the city.
Aragon has other fans. If you want to see more, here is a gallery of photos by one of them.