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Comments

Sharon

I'm a single professional woman who has been looking all over Dane County for a spot to retire in that will keep me near friends and UW colleagues in Madison as well as be a secure-feeling environment that provides a welcoming place for small social kinds of things and visits from out-of-town friends and extended family (and grandchildren). I live downtown now and in addition to wanting more space for guests, I miss doing a little gardening and keeping my windows open.

I like the architecture in MH. I like the community concept and wouldn't mind taking an active role. I am bothered by some of the issues raised in this and other blogs: lack of diversity, super-closeness to neighbors, guess I would prefer a few more trees.

Yes, I see that MH is not perfect, but what is?

I am excited about the possibility of building something smallish that will fit my unique situation, given that every one of the hundreds of houses I've looked at recently seem to be way off. I don't want to pay for remodeling that doesn't look like anything I ever would have selected myself, and I don't need anything like 3 bathrooms with jacuzzis, etc. But I do need space for a grand piano and a basement with mechanicals I can figure out on my own (I've seen some strange sump pump things and drainage rigs lately). And I know I don't want a giant lot or a big house in Pheasant Poop Estates.

So . . . . Here is my main question: MH seems like a great place for families and hence for my children and grandchildren to visit, but none of the blogs I've read has said anything about whether MH is a good place for single people. Do any singles live there? Do they like it?

Jennie

We have lived in Middleton Hills for just over a year, and this neighborhood is everything we dreamed it would be! I am an architecture enthusiast, and I never tire of walking the winding streets - everywhere you look there is a different type of house! I never want to go back to a neighborhood where there are tan vinyl-clad houses block after block. We have small children who thoroughly enjoy the two beautiful playgrounds and adjacent nature conservancy. We know everyone in our alley, and I feel like my children are safe when they are riding their bikes around back there. Even though the neighborhood could definitely benefit from more diversity, the people who live here are great. We meet new friends all the time. I also agree that the retail and work/live portion of the neighborhood could be better developed, but perhaps with time those empty storefronts will fill up.

Julie

We have lived in Middleton Hills for over 2 years, and we love it. Are there things that I would like to see changed? Of course. Having to pick-up our mail at a common site near the cafe was supposed to create an environment where residents could meet and socialize. But most people end up driving to get their mail, and the cafe closes at 3pm every weekday, so unless you do not work, there is no opportunity to enjoy this aspect of Middleton Hills. I'm undecided about whether or not the alleys are a good idea. Children often play in them since most yards are small to non-existant (which is not very safe). In addition, they are the narrowest roads you'll ever see, leading garbage trucks and larger vehicles to frequently drive over corners and onto what little grass the yards actually have. Of course, there is little racial diversity - We live in Madison, WI! (And I say that as a half-Filipina.) So, why do I love it here? The people are friendly, and you'll see kids out playing and riding their bikes every day in nice weather. It's a great neighborhood for families.

Joanne

I live in Middleton Hills and have to agree with much of what the writer said. There are actually very few people out there walking, they hop in their SUVs to go a quarter of a mile. And speaking of racial diversity, there is very little, my sense is that people move here to get away from it. The houses keep getting bigger and it seems like a contest to see who has the nicest furniture and lawn (we get dirty looks because we do not poison our yard). There a plenty of neighborhood feuds. Middleton schools do not compare with Madison schools. We are trying to sell our house (moving to Hyde Park) but the market is not very good. I think that people who are looking for an urban experience have discovered that Middleton is very suburban and for those who want the suburbs, Middleton Hills does not have large yards. The retail is mostly empty, and a lot of residents head out to Sam's Club to shop. I do love the house that is pictured - the neighbors has a huge fit because it took a long time to build (a real craftsman did most of the work), it is a refreshing difference from the rest of the homes. Every time I hear the expression "Madison Liberal" (in a negative tone) I want to answer with a commment about Middleton bigots.

Sam

"Does it allow enough green space to create an open, park-like setting? Or does it still resemble a dense mess of rooftops and siding?"

New Urbanism is by definition far more dense than sprawl. Yards are small so that houses can be close together, making everything easier to walk to.

rhonda

Hi there,

I also just stumbled upon this posting. I am a former resident of Middleton Hills. We moved back to an urban neighborhood where we can walk/bike almost anywhere we want to go. More important, however, is that we now live in a neighborhood with diversity. Diversity in race, diversity in income and social economic status, and diversity in housing styles. On my block, there are single family owned homes (of many sizes), rentals, and even a group home for adults struggling with alcohol/drug issues. And we LOVE it!

We think it is important for our children to live with such diversity. Our main complaint about Middleton Hills is that it is very white and very upper class. And it looks to be only going more in that direction, given the prices of the last available lots for sale.

Also, our current cape cod house built in 1929 was built MUCH better than our "designer" built, prairie style home. We have much more confidence in the durability of this home, vs. the one we built in Middleton Hills. So, although the houses may look pretty on the outside, they may not stand the test of time as well.

That said, I do agree with the earlier poster that the alleys and little yards come alive in the evening, and we always had several children nearby to play with. Our neighbors were (and still are) good and decent people.

Bryan

Ben, thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear from someone who actually lives in Middleton Hills! I know it is slightly unfair to criticize without first-hand knowledge, so it is good to have your insight.

Ben

This is pretty late I realize, but I just stumbled upon it. I'm a reader of prairiemod and a resident of middleton hills.

Here's what it's important. Middleton Hills is a neighborhood with real people and families. We're not a concept and therefor not perfect. And the fact that the houses are built close together with alleys has proven to create a highly social environment. Come back at 7pm and hang out in my alley and you'll see what it's all about. The houses, while not inexpensive, are considerably smaller than most other sub-divisions in the area and built with more care for design. You won't find any 6,000 sq. ft. houses with brick fronts and vinyl sides.

On top of all that, there is a great elementary school just outside the neighborhood. We moved from Chicago and are pretty happy to live within walking distance of a grocery store, cafe, starbucks, and credit union just like we did in the south loop. How many suburban neighborhoods provide that opportunity?

Jetson Green

The thing I like about this development, is that all the homes within the community are architecturally common. By common, I mean there's a commonality. When you see so called architecturally significant homes within a traditional neighborhood you have one of two reactions: (1) I bet the neighbors love that, or (2) too bad all the houses in the neighborhood aren't like that.

I'm into the contemporary styles, but for these to fly within a neighborhood, it'd be nice if the entire neighborhood was going for the same thing. Anyway...long comment, cool community.

Pete

Two quick comments. I love the "McPrairie Style" comment. I spit green tea all over my keyboard and monitor when I read that. Don't worry, It is a work computer and is easily cleaned and/or replaced.

I know this is somewhat unrelated to this post, but I'll add it anyways... There is a contractor in the DC suburbs who is taking 1970s ranch houses and McPrairie-ing them. The first home they did was beautiful. It was so beautiful, in fact, that the neighbors contracted to have their home Prairiefied... then another ... and another. When considered individually, they are pretty neat looking homes. As a whole, it is just kinda weird.

My second comment (Yes, that whole blob above qualifies in my mind as one comment): ;)

For a long time I questioned whether Americans really wanted a community like the one that Middletown Hills aspires to be. It seems like the ethos of so much of American society includes starting EVERY activity by getting in the car and driving somewhere.

I live in an old, suburban neighborhood and almost everything I need is within easy walking distance. Work is a ways away, but I either commute by bicycle or tele-commute. I'm viewed by most as a total FREAK (for more reasons than just whole walking and commuting by bicycle thing).

What has been interesting is that the DC area is now having quite a few "town center" style communities pop up in very densely populated areas. The first and second floor are retail establishments and the upper 3 floors are luxury condos. There is a cute little court yard where shoppers can dine outside and people who live there can sit on thier balcony and watch the world go by.

This seems to be quite appealing to people because there are 8-10 of them in the area and more being built. They really seem to be located in areas that are more urban than suburban.

From the point of view that dines and shops at these places from time to time, I really kind of like the experience patronizing such a place. If I were single, I'd seriously contemplate buying into one.

Yup. All of that is one comment in my dimented mind.

Sorry that I kind-of wandered off topic. Moderate/delete to year heart's content. :D

Pete

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