There’s more to sustainability than just recycling.
While the community at Coates Bluff at Wright Island is living in apartments designed to minimize energy footprints, its developers say one of its most important features is its location, location, location.
It’s not cheap living, but no one there contributes to urban sprawl.
More than 74 percent of the units at the U.L. Coleman Companies development were occupied by the time of Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. At full occupancy — and President Linc Coleman said people are clamoring to fill the remaining space — 252 units worth of people will be housed in “resort-style” homes near the center of town.
The complex is still in construction with eight of 14 buildings completed.
“Continuing to build sprawling cities is not a sustainable model,” Coleman said. “We have approximately the same number of people in Shreveport today that we did approximately 40 years ago, and the land area is several times larger than it was then. We need to make a conscious effort as a city, as developers, as city planners, all of us involved in the future direction of our city, to better utilize our inner cities.”
Like the firm’s planned Bossier City Walker Place development, Coleman said Coates Bluff will try to recapture pre-WWII community living by reducing residents’ need for cars. There are no retail components to Coates Bluff, but there’s also no need to drive to a park, a bike trail or the gym.
“In terms of the services, the product, the quality of construction inside each building in terms of interior and exterior environments, there was a lot of careful consideration of how these elements were put together to create an atmosphere of a home,” Coleman said. “When you consider all of the services that are provided — we’re providing a fitness center, the farmers market we’re providing, free bicycle rental on the property, free coffee in the morning, we serve breakfast on a periodic basis — we have a number of things that are offered there that you’d pay for otherwise.”
For Carol Pearce, the last three weeks of living have been easy.
She and her husband had limited time to find a new place to live after work brought them from Corpus Christi, Texas. They left behind a beach-adjacent home, which she said was a difficult move, but found the aesthetics of Coates Bluff hard to turn down.
“I love the bike trail. I ride my bike or walk it almost every day. It’s like a resort,” Pearce said, “We signed a year’s lease, and maybe in a year we’ll move. But maybe not. Maybe we’ll decide to stay here because it’s so comfortable and such a nice place.”
Dr. Mike Yang moved to Shreveport from St. Louis in July to begin his residency at University Health. He said his girlfriend made most of the decisions that landed them at Coates Bluff, but he’s making the best of it.
“There’s a lot of green space with good access to the parks. I like that I’m able to bike to downtown,” Yang said. “I was just looking for a place to live.”
Grabbing a hold of that trend makes sense from a business standpoint, especially as young Americans grow more health and community conscious, said U.L. Coleman Development Manager Cole Guthrie.
“Younger people are not buying homes. Coming out of school they want to create a career, they’re getting married much later and having kids later. They want to be more involved in their community,”Guthrie said. “They want to be where the action is. Coates Bluff, as well as Walker Place, gives them a great option to live, work and be involved in their community.”
A return to urban centers from sprawling suburbs is a trend taking root across the country, according to UNO Department of Planning and Urban Studies Chair Renia Ehrenfeucht.
People may still desire the kind of quiet life the suburbs provide, but she said especially in not-too-dense cities such as Shreveport, new developments can offer that tranquility nearer city-based amenities.
Offering a range of inner-city living environments — from residential high-rises to small, city-bound suburbs such as Coates Bluff — makes city life more appealing to a broader range of people. The value is reducing sprawl to the benefit of the tax base, the environment and the diversity of a city.
“It’s happening in Shreveport. It’s happening in New Orleans. It’s happening across the U.S.,” Ehrenfeucht said. “Many of these developments are offering the best of both worlds.”
Urban sprawl isn’t a natural development, rather it came about from Americans wanting more space and national housing policies which favored the building and buying of single-family dwellings, she said. There are mixed emotions about the positives of sprawl, but she said the negatives are easy to define.
Continuing to push the borders of cities outward adds tremendous costs to taxpayers who must foot the bill for new utilities and infrastructure over time, Ehrenfeucht said. Sprawl also burdens the flora, fauna and natural resources surrounding urban centers.
“The more we develop outward, the more we have that effect,” Ehrenfeucht said. “In many ways it’s an expensive way to live and it becomes destructive.”
Coates Bluff at Wright Island amenities
• Smoke-free community
• 10,000 square foot clubhouse with Wi-Fi
• Executive conference room
• Private movie theater and multimedia room
• Internet café
• Outdoor entertainment and living area including fireplace, grills and outdoor kitchen
• Car care center
• Hiking and biking Trails
• Three-acre central park
• On-site maintenance
• Professional management company
• Full-service business center
• High-performance 24-hour fitness club
• Professionally designed practice putting green
• Professional kitchen
• Community event planner
• Three pools
• Outdoor fitness stations
• Waterfront parks with barbecue pavilions
• Laundry facilities