EDMOND — Caleb McCaleb has come up with another one from the history books — housing architecture history.
The success of his Arbor Creek neighborhood, tucked on the east side of Interstate 35 a hop north of Second Street, is the inspiration for Town Square, a new addition he's barely started a mile or so to the northwest.
At Arbor Creek, McCaleb Homes revived the Arts & Crafts bungalow.
The homes, on the cozy side for McCaleb at 1,400 to 3,100 square feet, were a hit when they started coming out of the ground in late 2008. The country was reeling from the Great Recession and even in the Oklahoma City area, where the national housing collapse was just a slump, buyers were thinking smaller than usual.
At Town Square, McCaleb is hitting the architecture archives again: The addition, on the north side of Danforth Road between Coltrane and Sooner roads — just west of I-35 — will have three vintage styles:
More Arts & Crafts homes, also called American Craftsman; plus Mission-style bungalows; and what McCaleb calls “jewel box” Tudors — so-called partly because the front elevation makes the rest of the house seem, but only seem, tiny.
Arbor Creek is in its final phase, with just a few of 172 lots remaining among its rolling, wooded acres. Proximity to I-35 helped. The land, just 15 miles north of downtown Oklahoma City, had been locked from development as a family homestead as Edmond grew around it.
Town Square will start with 40 sites in the first phase, room for another 120, and McCaleb said he has the option on land for another 300 — all carefully carved from the woods.
As McCaleb puts it in a glossy, 60-page brochure: “Living in Oklahoma, we see so many sprawling tract communities platted on flat and treeless wheat fields. Our goal is to find rolling, wooded land that reflects the natural beauty of Edmond. We also look for spring-fed streams and lakes that attract an abundance of wildlife.”
Town Square, old-growth trees left untouched, will have a central lake and winding streets with names including Merchant Lane, Farm Market Way and Station Street “for a vintage feel,” McCaleb said.
Why another trip down architecture Memory Lane?
He said it's what people want.
“What inspired it is Arbor Creek, with its early-1900s Arts & Crafts bungalows. A lot of people fell in love with the historical look,” McCaleb said.
McCaleb said he looked again to Edgemere and other historic Oklahoma City neighborhoods, as well as vintage neighborhoods adjacent to the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, for guidance for Town Square. McCaleb Homes and builder Jeff Justice of Justice Homes will be the builders.
McCaleb plans to have the three styles of architecture spread across the new neighborhood — with three or four different floor plans representing each.
Another feature of Town Square homes: rear garages, separate from the houses, which will have porte cocheres.
“A lot of these carriage garages in historical areas were done prior to the automobile revolution,” he explained.
His said his favorite of the three styles is the jewel box Tudor found in Edgemere, with covered front porches and side courtyards. Interior designer Terri McCaleb, his wife, said she prefers the Arts & Crafts style with its simple lines, low-pitched roof, hipped or with gables — and interiors with a mix of textures.
Variety — within well-established historical parameters — is the point, Caleb McCaleb said.
“People in Oklahoma City got tired of building these steep-pitched, country French (homes). We all overdid it. We overdid it ourselves. We probably went 10 years too long with that European country look,” he said.
Town Square homes will range from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet with most from 2,200 to 2,500 square feet, he said.
With housing in hit-and-miss recovery nationally, and Oklahoma City's economy still the envy of most of the rest of the country, McCaleb said homebuyers aren't as spooked away from big houses as they were a few years ago.
In fact, he said, younger well-paid engineers and executives moving in to work for the likes of Devon Energy, Continental Resources and Boeing Corp, are buying houses as big as they can afford.
Not that anyone is throwing money to the wind.
“Everybody is still cautious. The Great Recession was tough on everybody. People are still putting a lot of features in their houses, but we're not seeing the megahouses. We're not building the 5,000-square-foot ones anymore,” he said.
For McCaleb Homes at least, the future of housing looks like a bungalow.