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Master planned tour



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SEASIDE, WALTON COUNTY —
For addresses, GPS locations and phone numbers of the communities profiled, scroll down following the story below.

Florida features 1,197 miles of coastline, and 18 miles of Florida’s beaches don’t look like anything else, by design. In the panhandle-area awaits a strip of coast where real estate is the attraction.

“Seaside started this almost 30 years ago,” said Larry Davis, an iconic real estate manager in Grayton Beach.

The “New Urbanism” movement began in beachside communities found along state Route 30A in Walton County. Here, five master planned housing communities are renowned for their style and perfect for a relaxing self-guided tour.

“They have a lot more whimsy with their homes down here,” Davis explained about the small communities made up of large vacation homes.

Many homeowners live outside the state, but rent their properties to vacation seekers.

“They (homeowners) can have more fun down here, and the color pallet reflects that,” Davis said about the yellow, pink, and baby blue houses in Seaside, where no two homes can look the same.

Each is custom built and unique.

Davis’ grandfather owned the land Seaside sits upon before Davis’ brother Robert began developing it in the 1980s. The beachfront community of Seaside came first, with its distinct white picket fences, and third floor towers providing views of the Gulf of Mexico. Each roof is made from metal.

“The metal roofs are just a reflection of what was done here over many, many years,” Davis commented, explaining tin roofs in this part of Florida first appeared generations ago.

The layout of Seaside, first occupied in 1983, sets the neighborhood apart from other housing communities.

“In Seaside, you can get from the boundary to the town center within a five minute walk, promoting walking, exchanges between neighbors,” Davis said.

Architects studied the set backs from each dwelling’s front porch to the street. The chosen distance was found to promote conversations. Each home is also lined by a picket fence, and by code, the design of the fences must be different.

The design principals of Seaside served as a foundation for four other neighborhoods along S.R. 30A.

“They have set the example and other developers have followed along to follow on their success,” Davis said.

Travel east from Seaside and find the second master planned community of Rosemary Beach.

Here, many artists and shop keepers work on the ground floor and live above their store. Influences from the West Indies, St. Augustine, Havana and New Orleans create grand entry areas and many balconies facing the water.

“Owners want lower maintenance and no maintenance (homes),” Davis said, referring to the masonry and stucco building materials found here.

If neighborhoods had sequels, Watercolor would be it. Nestled next to Seaside, the 499-acre Watercolor community sports homes based on the vernacular architecture of southern homes made from wood.

“It’s really the time tested materials and architectural styles and building trades with deep overhangs that we’re established in Grayton Beach, a historic neighborhood we have 5 minutes from here,” Davis said.

In Watercolor, wood siding and metal roofs with large overhangs are the standard, while a view of the water is not.

“The St. Joe Corporation built this wonderful beach club for all of their property owners to enjoy and have access to all of their beaches,” Davis said of the large beach-front complex that also sports a hotel for folks looking to purchase a home.

“They built this wonderful hotel to house their guests so they can come down; ‘test drive’ our community to see if they like it, before they wind up buying,” Davis said.

Close in style to Watercolor,Water Sound is the only gated master planned community. It features homes like those found in Cape Cod and New England. Building materials here are cedar shake roofs, time tested in Martha’s Vineyard.

Davis said don’t expect fancy landscaping here, as yards are allowed to grow wild, cutting down on time spent gardening and increasing the time enjoying the beach.

Finally, you’re still in Walton County, and not Bermuda, although Alys Beach (pronounced “Alice” Beach) looks like something from an island.

Thick masonry walls, painted white help keep rows of homes here cool, according to Davis.

“The white reflective paint, that helps keep the temperatures down,” Davis said.

He calls this the most environmentally friendly neighborhood where cisterns save rain water.

“They’ll funnel them into storage that’s used for irrigation throughout or on the individual’s personal property to water their plants,” Davis said.

Then there is the pool at Alys Beach. The bathing area looks like something from a Middle East desert oasis. Several private cabanas dot the perimeter, while a lap pool has a docking station for your iPod, perfect for listening to underwater tunes while swimming.

“It’s the forgotten Florida in a lot of ways,” Davis concluded of the laidback vibe each neighborhood sports.

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The Master Planned Communities of South Walton County
Five distinct properties feature design aspects of the new urbanism movement
Where:
State Route 30A
Walton County

Seaside, Florida:
Address to GPS:
2236 East County Road 30A
Seaside, Florida

Cost:
Free to look!

Phone:
(866) 976-6198

Latitude & Longitude:
Latitude: 30.31947,
Longitude: -86.137877

Parking:
Free at Central Square by the restaurants and ice cream parlors

Website:

http://www.seasidefl.com/

Water Color, Florida:
Address to GPS:
34 Goldenrod Circle
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

Cost:
Free to look!

Latitude & Longitude:
Latitude: 30.323045,
Longitude: -86.14455

Parking:
Free at the shopping district and Watercolor Inn

Website:

http://www.joe.com/watercolor-community

Water Sound, Florida:
Address to GPS:
429 Bridge Lane
Watersound, FL 32413

Cost:
Free, but know this is a gated community with limited access.

Latitude & Longitude:
Latitude: 30.303243
Longitude: -86.068311

Parking:
Free at the Water Sound entrance

Website:

http://www.joe.com/watersound-community

Alys Beach, Florida:
GPS Address:
9581 E. County Hwy 30A
Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Cost:
Free to look

Phone:
(866) 732-1760

Latitude & Longitude:
Latitude: 30.284882
Longitude: -86.029129

Parking:
Free along the parallel spots along SR 30A

Website:

http://www.alysbeach.com/

Rosemary Beach, Florida:
GPS Address:
78 N Barrett Square
Freeport, FL 32413

Cost:
Free to look

Phone:
(866) 348-8952

Latitude & Longitude:
Latitude: 30.280893
Longitude: -86.015793

Parking:
Free along the streets

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