Last week I took a drive out to the sprawled out mess at Walker and the 401. My reasons were two fold.

1. I was trying to get a few shots to display at the Check Out This Sprawl exhibit, and…

2. I wanted to see what all the crying was about, although I must confess I feel little pity in my heart for those who build/buy a crappy cookie cutter house hard up against a highway. I think you get what you deserve…

Anyway, on with the show!

Crammed in like sardines.

This is living. I heard it compared before, how street in new sub divisions serve the same purpose alley’s did for old neighbourhoods. A place to park you car, put our your trash, and access to your garage.

Every street looks the same. Seriously.

Yay! Triplets!


Yup. Unicorn Street. I would be embarrassed to tell people I lived on Unicorn Street.

Here’s someone with a nice view of the machinery rebuilding the 401. Three cars too… A pickup and an SUV. Glad I don’t have that gas bill.

Garages with attached houses. The landscaping might look like crap, but at least they got that fancy stampcrete driveway installed.

I know it all comes down to personal preference, but I couldn’t live in a place like that. I like the fact that I can park my car on the weekends, and walk and/or ride my bike wherever I need to go.

27 Comments on Sprawltastic

  1. Take a look at the future slums of North America! I will take the bleakness of the core, with nearness of the river, than to live in such expensive, dreary, soul killing, life destroying crapville as pictured above and my tax dollars are subsidizing that manure pile! The alleys of old Windsor have more personality than the streets of suburbia!

  2. Little boxes made of ticky tacky?

    As much as I hate new developments like the one you pictured, the only real way to judge their total effect is to go back and look at them after 15 years or so, after the “new” has worn off. They look a little better after the landscaping has matured and the homeowners have added their own personal touches to their property.

    Wonder what the lot size is?

  3. Anderew, did you notice any park space nearby? Perhaps theres pleanty of public spaces with trees to offset the beige on beige and makes living palletable?

  4. Fausto – I believe that there are parks in the subdivision.I’m fairly certian that it is a requirement by the city when a new sub-division is built.

  5. Thanks Andrew!, I only asked because there is a similar subdivision near me (although its hard to tell – it could be the very same one!) and when I inquired when the park would be built, the response was something about how the developer was not required to build a park space until a certain percentage of the lots were sold and built. This subdivison is 12 years old. Its shameful because families will likely raise their kids until they leave the house before the park is built.
    But, hey! its a great deal for the developer though isn’t !!! ..so it must be ok.

  6. i hate houses designed like that with the garage in front and narrow yards. house design these days is so terrible. i’d rather have no garage and a nice design that these new homes.

  7. And, it’s cheaper to live in the core too. The cheapest property on Unicorn St. in sprawlsville is a bungalow going for $190K. 100’x45′ lot compared to downtown with 35’x120′ lots: http://www.mls.ca/PropertyDetails.aspx?vd=&SearchURL=%3fMode%3d0%26Page%3d1%26vs%3dResidential%26ret%3d300%26sts%3d0-0%26beds%3d0-0%26baths%3d0-0%26ci%3dwindsor%26pro%3d2%26st%3dunicorn%26mp%3d0-0-0%26mrt%3d0-0-4%26trt%3d2%26of%3d1%26ps%3d10%26o%3dA&Mode=0&PropertyID=5972430

    Forget about fixing up 2 storey handyman specials for $60K in downtown. You want two storey on Unicorn St., no probs, only $100K more than the bungalow on the same sized lot:

    V8s and overpriced sprawsville homes, who says Windsor is undergoing a recession??

  8. I personally wouldn’t want anything built by “habib” homes, they have no character, or presence. Completely boring to me, when I buy…It will be an older home with old world charm. What makes these homes worth 189,000, or 279,000.00? I don’t see it at all.

  9. Its not like there is an affordable alternative to buying one of these cookie cutter homes. The older neighbourhoods tend to be more rundown.
    And it seems too compicated to buy a lot and build a unique homestyle.
    I would think municipality’s planning departments have to get involved here and sell lots in a developing neighbourhood, maybe even on a singular basis instead of a contractor buying a whole neighbourhood and building the same design with the garage on opposite sides over and over again.

  10. But I forgot to mention that I am in total agreement with some of these ludicurous names that these builders come up with.

  11. Nice photo shoot. I can’t stand these zero lot line developments – is land that expensive that the houses have to nearly touch? Why not just build row houses then, like Coronation Street?

    Forty feet wide lots? Wow, that’s living in the country. It seems like an apartment is no different than these houses. And no sidewalks either, so kids have to play in the street. What a shame to be a kid and not have sidewalks to learn how to ride a bike on.

    I have never been a fan of that raised-ranch style anyway, always going up and down stairs. You’d think with that layout, Windsorities would be the fittest people around.

    It seems like some of these developments follow the old farm lots set up by the French, like those going east on Riverside Dr. You can almost see the houses squished in between too-narrow roads.

    These houses should be regular colonials with real basements, and on 100x100ft lots, with sidewalks. Otherwise build townhomes and call it a day. If people don’t really like the neighborhood, but buy because they don’t want to live in an apartment, they will move on as soon as they can, so turnover will be a problem. I can’t imagine people living in these homes for 40-50 years.

    I was going to say since all the homes are the same, the builders’ quality should be high, as all the bugs should be fixed after the first few homes – but I doubt it. These babies are slapped together ASAP, at least they were until the housing market collapsed.

  12. Lately, I’ve noticed an awful lot of homes up for sale in the east end of Windsor. I wonder if the people moving out of older neighborhoods like Forest Glade and Fountainblue are buying up the cookie-cutter houses out by the 401 or whether they are moving out of Windsor altogether.

  13. George, there were many, many, for sale signs in this “neighbourhood”. I’m not sure if they are foreclosures or turn-over or if they were ever occupied.

    JB – I think you’re right on the money. They are slapped together as quick as possible, using the cheapest materials. We’ll see how they look in 20 years…

  14. Check out ‘South Windsor’ – built from what – the early 1950’s thru late 60’s/early 70’s. Notice how few sidewalks are present? Do you know what it’s like being a kid trying to get to school? At least Norfolk had sidewalks on both sides – but the feeder streets didn’t. How about the kids at Southwood? Again, busy streets and no side walks!! Hey, about about walking to the corner store to buy a candy bar or a stamp? Put yourself at Massey or near Massey – or the centre of South Windsor – circa 1985 – where is the closest convenience store? What poor planning. And it just continues …

    I believe a perception exists that the downtown is a dump and a bad area and people don’t want to live there – hence they move to these ‘burbs’ to show off their ‘wealth (or debt)’. You know, big house, big cars, … — perhaps good about 20 years ago, but as written above, the slums of the future.

  15. Old world charm. Real hardwood floors. Natural fireplaces. Pocket doors. Coved ceilings. Glass doorknobs. Huge wooden front doors. Wainscoting. To list just a few added benefits one is rewarded with when buying an older home in the city vs the so-called “ticky tack” raised ranches and townhomes. Not to mention build quality and workmanship of a long gone era when homes were built over a period of months. As Andrew says, it’s a matter of personal preference, but I’m glad to see more homebuyers are starting to show an interest in vintage homes. And for what one must spend on a home in sprawlsville you can do quite nicely – even better – in areas like Old Riverside, Walkerville, and yes… Downtown too. Ever admire the grand old homes on Victoria which extend north right into downtown?

    And yes, Windsorite, the convenience store should be around the corner or down the street, along with a bunch of other useful places. Running out of eggs shouldn’t mean having to plan a car trip. 😉 That’s the nicest thing about living in the city. I’m with Andrew all the way on this. Could not imagine being a slave to my car in sprawlsville, which is essentially what living out there is all about. At $1.30/litre and climbing I think more people are going to be coming back too!

  16. John, I have to chuckle when I hear you talk about old world charm. Most downtown houses were at some point rental properties and most of that old world charm is long gone. Fireplaces had to be sealed up with a brick wall, as ordered by the Fire Marshall for rentals. Hardwood floors damaged beyond repair from cat and dog urine, original doors kicked in and replaced by metal or press board, once natural wood trim damaged from sloppy moving and chewed away by animals which had to be painted over, original wainscotting rotted from neglect. A lot of the houses on Victoria were at some point split into apartments and turned into rentals. And, while the brickwork may make it look quite elegant from the outside, the inside tells a whole different story, I’ve seen too many wrecked interiors in downtown to have such a romanticized view of it. Yet, that being said, a fresh coat of paint on the inside and new carpet could have one living quite comfortably in a home the size of one in sprawlsvile for a lot less.

  17. Well that generalisation is very debatable, but regardless of that, I was not talking about the 69k shacks which exist in many areas of the city, not just downtown. You missed the point:

    The comparison was between what you could buy in the city (which includes areas outside the downtown core btw) in the same price bracket or even less than you would pay in sprawlsville, not some handyman special rental property from hell on Aylmer. Apples to apples.

    I’m not sure how your home buying experiencies have been, but I’m on my 2nd home and in both instances there were scads of older homes on the market, particularly in Riverside and Walkerville, in fine condition. In the 150k range I did not see one home with damaged hardwood, kicked in doors, sealed up fireplaces, etc.

  18. I’m not talking about Alymer St–most of the exteriors are all gone from the vinyl siding, so it makes no sense to even set foot inside. Maybe you’re just sticking to Chilver and Devonshire, but check out some of the ones on Lincoln–looked like someone threw a hand grenade inside. Most of my search was done from Victoria to Caron in downtown $150K and less range. Pretty rare to see one like you’re talking about there. There’s some beautiful brick houses on Bruce. Looks great on the outside exterior, but once you set foot inside, OUCH! No old world charm. You know it’s been a rental.

  19. I’m not talking about just Chilver and Devonshire, although they are good examples.
    I’ve looked at quite a few homes on Lincoln that were very nice, by the way. Lincoln is one of those streets that runs the whole gammut. But once again, in the sprawlsville price bracket, you will do fine on Lincoln as well.

  20. I just sold my house in Olde Riverside. It took quite a long time because most people seems to actually want the cookie cutter home. I’d always have plenty of people wanting to look at the house but they’d always say that it’s not “open concept” enough.

    I was always so insulted when people preferred the new cookie cutter raised ranch over my 5 inch baseboards, beautiful doors, and 100 year old trees.

    All the garages in the pictures are nauseating.

  21. Coming back from T.O. I was also in Mississauga and noticed a subdivision called Gooderham’s Estates or something like that and each was a neo-victorian. I was floored to see how interesting each was was and how nice some of the details were. I do understand that these are not cheap and probably quite expensive (notwithstanding the high prices in that market anyway) but it beats the crap that has been put in Windsor over the last 15 years. Raised ranches? Uggh!

  22. Something along the lines of the houses they built in Nova Estates (I think that’s what it is called) in Lasalle, ME ?

  23. Rauti built some tradtional type homes just off matchette north of bouffard some years ago. I think it was promoted as a ‘new york style’ at the time. They still look good with detached garages set back from the house.

  24. Similar John but these were much nicer without the size of those in LaSalle. I was shocked by the gingerbread on the houses as they had both victorian style and gothic style homes on the same street.

  25. Cookie cutter, okay. As a homeowner in this neighbourhood I’ve tried to add individuality by planting many trees and creating pretty garden beds. Our neighbours are wonderful, too. Sure, how great it would be to live somewhere full of natural beauty but it’s not Windsor’s strong point. Neither is our economy, with so many people leaving the city for jobs elsewhere or losing their home to the banks, I’m just as happy here in my cookie cutter with a roof over my head. Yes, we do have sidewalks and decent bus service, too. Raised ranches weren’t my first choice but having lived in this one for 2 years I consider their layout to be efficient. My family needs a house that works, not a house requiring us to work on updating it, etc. You may not like this same-on-same design, I can understand that. I do, however, feel this neighbourhood looks less depressing than some of the run-down, bleak, and faulty-wiring/ plumbing problems of the homes in many of our city’s neighbourhoods.

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