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September 5, 2014

Seabrook brings back the “Art of Town Building”

Story by Brionna Friedrich | Photos by Aaron Lavinsky

(Aaron Lavinsky | The Daily World) The ocean view from the Beach Bluff house in Seabrook.

Even when a Pacific storm is battering the panes of the snug cottages, the beauty of the Washington Coast permeates everything about the carefully crafted beach homes at Seabrook.

It’s an experience Northwest visitors once could only get in old, established beach towns like Manzanita or Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast, where Casey Roloff was first inspired to create Seabrook, a custom beach community that feels like it’s always been there.

(Aaron Lavinsky | The Daily World) Tom and Jane Kangas hold hands while walking into Mill 109 for lunch on Thursday, May 29, 2014 in Seabrook.

Tom and Jane Kangas hold hands while walking into Mill 109 for lunch on Thursday, May 29, 2014 in Seabrook.

“There’s a lot of great little beach towns on the Oregon coast,” Roloff said. “And what (people) like about it was the quaint little village feel and having everything within walking distance. … So we saw an opportunity to build a new village on the Washington Coast that really didn’t seem to exist.”

Seabrook’s creators turned what was once a lonely bluff just south of the little town of Pacific Beach, about 2 1/2 hours from Seattle, into a warm, walkable town. It’s drawn the attention of publications from Coastal Living to TreeHugger to Style Me Pretty.

Sunset magazine chose it for its first­ever Idea Town, an expansion on its annual Idea House. The project celebrates innovative design.

(Aaron Lavinsky | The Daily World) Sand dollars collected in the Beach Bluff home in Seabrook.

Sand dollars collected in the Beach Bluff home in Seabrook.

“We just loved the concept of Seabrook,” said Sarah Gaffney of Sunset. “It really embodies a sense of ethos with sustainability, the walkability factor, slowing down, enjoying the outdoors, enjoying your neighbors. So the Idea Town really embodies everything Seabrook is about.” Seabrook celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. “What people know us for is we kept building and selling at almost the same pace after the recession hit,” Roloff said. “That’s what really proved the concept was working and it wasn’t just a bubble kind of thing.”

Visitors can rent a beach house and stroll through an appealing commercial district that offers everything from pet supplies to home decor, and enjoy a meal at Mill 109, often accompanied by the music of local artists.

(Aaron Lavinsky | The Daily World) Beach-themed home decorations are plentiful at the Sea Worthy Home shop in Seabrook.

Beach-themed home decorations are plentiful at the Sea Worthy Home shop in Seabrook.

The homes, which look as if they could have been plucked from Nantucket or Cape Cod, manage to flow together without duplicating designs. That effect, organic as it feels, is a result of careful planning. “That’s really where people wanted to be, that’s where they’re paying the most to be,” Roloff said of towns like the New England mainstays. “People are driven to great public places, where you can walk around, have a beer, walk on the beach, walk to a playground, things like that.”

It’s all part of what Roloff calls a return to “the art of town building.” He and other successful developers noticed many of the towns that held their value over time were developed before the advent of the automobile changed the way cities are shaped.

When cars became part of the culture, “that’s when we started to spread out, and kind of what we thought was modernizing and simplifying our lives ended up backfiring and complicating our lives,” Roloff explained. “Our development patterns really shifted from artistic designs to where houses and retail shops and civic buildings were all mixed together in a really beautiful way. And then when our car was introduced, we thought, ‘Well we can have more land and a big driveway’ and kind of gave up on the idea of walkability and knowing our neighbors and having things closer to the home.” That community concept has drawn everyone from families with young children to retirees.

(Aaron Lavinsky | The Daily World)

“From the beginning, we wanted Seabrook to be a place for really everyone, as cheesy as that sounds,” Roloff said. “Obviously we have the high­profile executives, but we also have teachers, police officers, firemen. “… They come out here for the ocean, but when they leave, what brings them back is the sense of community. … It’s the visual stimulation of the architecture and the designs and the surprise around every corner that really makes people want to get here, park their car and walk around the town. And oh yeah we’re at the ocean, too. The ocean has become kind of secondary.”

But you don’t have to buy or rent a house to enjoy the town.“Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a guest or an owner, that’s for sure. The more retail businesses we have, I think people will start to understand that more,” Roloff said.

(Aaron Lavinsky | The Daily World) The Salty Dog in Seabrook offers a wide variety of dog toys including razor clam chew toys which are exclusive to the store.

The Salty Dog in Seabrook offers a wide variety of dog toys including razor clam chew toys which are exclusive to the store.

Applications for new merchants are always accepted. A wine shop opened recently and Frontager’s, a gourmet pizza truck, has evolved into a permanent shop that will open in the coming months. The recently completed town hall can host group events, movie nights and weddings — a burgeoning growth industry at Seabrook. Guests and residents alike can enjoy a year­round, heated indoor pool and spa.

“We want this to be a place people can come after work, watch the sunset, have dinner and head back home, no different than any other little beach town that’s close by,” he said. “It’s definitely very casual and we want to keep it that way.”

It’s still a work in progress, Roloff was quick to add, and the town relies on the feedback from its guests and residents to keep growing in the right direction.

(Aaron Lavinsky | The Daily World) The American flag flies behind a Front Street Market sign in Seabrook.

The American flag flies behind a Front Street Market sign in Seabrook.

“We have a long ways to go,” he said. “Now we’re focused on building our town center, main street, and really growing our retail business. What that does is drive more people to want to live out here full­time and of course have vacation and second homes. … I think every great town, great city, has evolved from economic changes, trends. We’ve stayed pretty true to the original vision, but that vision was always a collaborative one.”

IDEA TOWN

The cluster of homes built for Sunset magazine are now available for vacation rentals. The elegant indoor living spaces flow seamlessly into shared outdoor space, allowing neighbors to enjoy an evening together comfortably around the communal fireplace, or working in the small garden plots.

“This is a lifestyle home,” said designer Brian Paquette in a video for Sunset. “This home is about the outside as much as it is the inside. There’s going to be just as much entertaining outside as there would be inside. ”

In one house, the stair treads are adorned with a custom­ made wallpaper of 1920s clam diggers working the nearby beaches. In another, a large, freestanding tub is the main event in the master bath, like many old style coastal homes, but with an unmistakably modern twist. The angular soaker tub overlooks the garden spaces on a raised, tiled platform. A shower surrounded by clear glass completes the room.

The Idea Town houses rent from $950 to $1,350 per night. Other Seabrook rentals start at $109 per night. For rental information, visit www.seabrookcottagerentals.com or call 360­276­0265.

BEACH HOMES

Seabrook is composed of about 240 homes on the coast near Pacific Beach. Prices range from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than a million and the units range from two bedroom cottages to four bedroom homes. For those who want to choose their design and build from scratch, construction takes about six to seven months.

To help pay the mortgage, about half of Seabrook’s homeowners participate in the town’s rental program. When the owners aren’t using the property, they can offer it as a rental managed by Seabrook. Houses in the rental program are rented an average of 170 nights per year, some slightly more than 200 nights.

www.seabrookwa.com

LOCAL BUSINESSES

Mill 109: Seabrook’s main restaurant, serving pub­style comfort food. Open 7 days per week. Dinner entrees range from $12 to $26.
www.mill109.com

Front Street Market: Family owned and operated grocery story.
http://on.fb.me/1vNrmJI

The Salty Dog: A one­stop­shop experience for dogs and their humans.
www.shopsaltydog.com

The Stowaway: Wine and cheese shop with local and international offerings. Fresh bread delivered daily.
www.facebook.com/ThestowawayatSB

Colours Pottery Painting Studio: Choose from a variety of ceramic shapes, plates and other objects to create your own custom­painted piece. 360­276­4321

Crafty Christine: Unique jewelry, accessories and mosaics, housed inside an Airstream trailer on Front Street. Also known as Siren Salvage.
www.facebook.com/SirenSalvage

Seaworthy Home: A home store featuring unieque, ecclectic and vintage pieces.
http://on.fb.me/1oaJPxG

Spa Elizabeth: Massage therapy, body treatments, facials and waxing services, all featureing natural, organic and vegan or gluten free products. By appointment only.
www.spaelizabeth.com

Wind Gate Equestrian: Make an appointment for a private pony ride, a “pony play date” or shop in the Ponies Boutique for all your equine needs. Wild Feathers Pony Camp (2 hours) and Wind Gate 1 Day Pony Camps offered for kids throughout the summer for $135 and $295, respectively.
www.windgatesb.com

Seabrook Logowear Shop: Find branded souveniers and outdoor wear inside the cottage rentals office.
360.­276.­0265

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Places, Restaurants