Back-to-back townhomes are a new trend in the Bay Area. A different take on row houses these properties feature multiple 3-storey units that share a back wall. Suburban areas like Waterdown are seeing tremendous infill and new development projects using these designs. However, this may not be the best use of scarce land.
Provincial Pressures Changing Developments in the Region
For years Ontario has been under pressure to build denser communities. The introduction of the Greenbelt and Places to Grow Acts have put pressure on municipalities to build within their urban boundaries. Developers in turn are looking to create denser communities to maximize their investment as developable land becomes scarce.
Dense development has taken the form of mid to high-rise condo developments centred in downtown cores. The region’s suburbs are taking a different route in the suburbs; stacked and back-to-back townhomes.
Back-to-Backs Lack Thoughtful Design
Most back-to-back townhome developments are defined by their car-centric design, decreased parking, multiple staircases, and lack of neighbourhood amenities. These new developments lack a community feel and seem disconnected. Once completed neighbourhoods feel cramped and congested.
The Canadian Market is Changing
Developers need to be cognizant of changing consumers needs. Baby Boomers and Millennials represent the largest segments in the Canadian market. Both share similar desires for housing; walkable communities near amenities. In their current form back-to-back townhomes are impractical for the average Baby Boomer. They are inaccessible and offer no amenities for residents.
Changes in Design will Benefit Future Developments
Communities should be planned for the future. Resale value and community benefits should not be overlooked in the planning stages. I may dislike back-to-backs in their current form. Simple changes in design could plan for the future retirement of baby boomers.
Back-to-backs could be improved by creating optional elevators within the units. Communities could also be planned around a village square with commercial space. Additionally, community parks and a pool could be added to give residents access to more amenities.
Opinions on back-to-back townhomes can be very wide ranging. I want to hear what you think! Leave your comments below or Tweet me!
Do you like back-to-back townhomes? If no, what do you think would be a better alternative given land constraints?