Seaside article - Palm Beach Post
Weekend getaway: Seaside
By Joel Engelhardt, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Seaside is a resort of neat homes with white picket fences, tin roofs, front porches and rich wooden accents. Critics argue that it fails as a community because few people live there. Instead, homes are rented to tourists, mainly from Atlanta, who flock there during the summer.
The debate is inconsequential. It's a resort, and it thrives because it offers something so unique it's worth driving to, even 550 miles from West Palm Beach, and the cost of two night's lodging is more than $500. Seaside is part Atlanta's Buckhead, part Florida's Redneck Riviera and part Boulder, Colo. It is the example many community designers turn to when asked to show a successful traditional community.
The 1982 design by Miami husband-and-wife team Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk is as beautiful as a stunning sunset and as comfortable as an old shoe. The gazebo is the kind of small detail most communities overlook. It thrives among Seaside's rigid architectural standards. Despite the criticism about controlling rules, every house looks different.
The rules define the canvas. Architects enrich it with vivid colors, rich materials, functional balconies, graceful roof lines and engaging windows. Instead of lawns, you find wooden decks with wooden rockers, and mulched beds of native plants lined by brick pavers or narrow, sandy walkways. Little islands of thick hammock are inserted in forks in the road, offering mysterious places to wander. Lawns are banned, doing away with their insatiable need for water and the noise from mowers.
The homes have names, like Dreamboat, Fantasia and Romance. I stayed with my wife, 14-year-old daughter and her friend in Relax, a richly detailed two-story, with front and side balconies and a wraparound deck. A ladder leads to a third-story bedroom where the girls nestled into futons surrounding a TV. But the girls didn't have to stay in all day watching videotapes. They could walk to the beach, the swimming pool, one of three town restaurants, one of several boutiques or a bookstore without parents to drive them around.
Many families rent or bring bicycles and ride everywhere, including trips to the surrounding state preserves, such as Grayton Beach State Recreation Area, less than 5 miles away. Bikes can be rented in town for $15 a day or $60 a week. Seaside is so popular as a high-end Atlanta getaway, the prices rival Buckhead, the upscale suburb known as the Beverly Hills of the South.
But the restaurants are reasonable, and good. For that dress-up dinner, try Bud & Alley's Waterfront Restaurant, the fanciest in Seaside. Aside from excellent black iron-seared sea scallops, it's got an upstairs bar with a majestic Gulf view. For food basics, there's an old-fashioned general store, Modica Market, that crams items onto floor-to-ceiling shelves and entices with fresh meals and baked goods. Best of all, there's a coffee shop with outdoor seating on a two-block plaza lined with homes and stores.
Settle in and enjoy a hot drink, a newspaper and a view of the resort's visitors strolling, jogging and biking past. It's easy to pick a house in Seaside. The Web site, Seasidefl.com, offers dozens of rentals, and local Realtors, such as Emerald Sun Properties (emeraldsun.com) offer competition.
You can choose by number of guests (some houses accommodate eight; some connect next-door for two-family excursions). Keys await in lock boxes opened by a combination. Maid service arrives at the end of your stay and is available daily in some homes. Seaside's popularity can be seen in its imitators, Rosemary Beach, also designed by Duany and Plater-Zyberk; and WaterColor, by The St. Joe Co.
I could see out my front door into the construction zone of WaterColor immediately west of Seaside: they've already made a shortsighted concession to cost by relying on asphalt instead of brick roads. If you really want to get the full ambiance of Seaside, drive through the unremarkable Panama City strip of "3 for $10" T-shirt shops, bulging parking lots and unremarkable hotels. When you enter Seaside and park your car, not to be moved for two days, you'll feel like you've entered a world where that other world can't intrude.
Re: Seaside article - Palm Beach PostI could see out my front door into the construction zone of WaterColor immediately west of Seaside: they've already made a shortsighted concession to cost by relying on asphalt instead of brick roads. If you really want to get the full ambiance of Seaside, drive through the unremarkable Panama City strip of "3 for $10" T-shirt shops, bulging parking lots and unremarkable hotels. When you enter Seaside and park your car, not to be moved for two days, you'll feel like you've entered a world where that other world can't intrude.
02-19-2005, 07:44 AM #3
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