Modern Subdivisions Emphasize Open Space, Community and Design
Renee Jones Schneider – Star Tribune
Marine-on-St. Croix's Jackson Meadows is popping up in lifestyle magazines thanks to its open space, community features and design.
Kyle Johnson admits that his first glimpse of the Jackson Meadow development in Marine on St. Croix was a skeptical one. It was too perfect, a Stepford Wives-style project. “It was like, ‘No way, this is freaky!’ ” he said. Johnson lives in one of the Instagrammable subdivisions with first-class architecture that sprang to life beginning in the 1990s. Not all of them worked as well as planned, and many who moved there even came to despise such planner-driven brainstorms as communal mailboxes, designed to get residents to mingle but hard to reach during blizzards. Many remain studded with empty lots.
But academics and environmentalists say those experiments in planning encouraged developers to approach conventional subdivisions differently — seeking to build a community first, rather than just too-wide streets and four-shades-of-taupe homes.
Developments such as Fields of St. Croix in Lake Elmo, Mayo Woodlands outside Rochester and Wild Meadows in Medina sought to counter the biggest complaints about sprawl by stressing great design, communal features and vast stretches of protected nature.
Jackson Meadow is more intriguing than most because it’s one of the weirdest. A series of YouTube videos of the place, suggesting it was the home of some suspicious cult, once created so much drive-through traffic that police were called. “ ‘Oh, you live there. The crazies!’ ” Johnson said he has heard.