08-27-18 | Feature
Coving - An Innovative Streetscape Design
Remington Coves in Otsego, Minn.

Planner: Rick Harrison of Rick Harrison Site Design

Coving - An Innovative Streetscape Design

Remington Coves is a 113-unit residential development on 40 acres located in Otsego, Minn. about 40 minutes from the heart of Minneapolis. The site was designed by Rick Harrison Design Studio from Minneapolis and developed by Raymond Pruban of Solid Ground Development in Saint Paul, Minn. Remington Coves was the first site that the designer had done in which homes meandered onto the next street and create an open space through the block, instead of around it.

Coving - An Innovative Streetscape Design

Inside this cove of homes, but still visible from the street, is a 0.9 acre central park, which connects to the rest of the site via walkways. It includes two playgrounds, one for smaller children and one for bigger kids, and is surrounded by four conveniently placed benches.

Remington Coves, a housing community in Otsego, Minn., uses a design featuring organic shapes and undulating streetscapes that is known as "Coving" and was pioneered by Rick Harrison Site Design, an international landscape design firm located in Minnesota. There are no lot lines radial, or perpendicular, to street right-of-ways and every curve does a complete reverse into the next, all while working within the confines of the block. The site developer was Solid Ground Development LLC.

Eliminating Monotony
Remington Coves uses a new evolution in 'coving,' to enhance the streetscape and open up space within the neighborhood. The original thought behind the coving method was to eliminate the problem of mundane corridors that were conventionally created in planned neighborhoods. Traditionally, homes would align face to face along the right of way, eliminating a sense of privacy and stripping away uniqueness.
Coving was a way to add visual interest and create value, even on a flat, featureless site. By utilizing coving, no two houses face each other, as they are all slightly angled away in different directions.

The first generation of coving developments had the following elements:
• Home setbacks, streets and sidewalks formed uniquely non-parallel, curvilinear patterns.
• When the lines of homes and streets curve and vary at complimentary intervals, the amount of total street surface is reduced by about 25%, without density loss.
• All setbacks (front, side and rear) are generally larger than the regulation minimums.

Home Views and Privacy Enhanced
Remington Coves consists of 70 single-family homes and 43 BayHomes, which are similar to single-family homes, but are considered detached townhomes.

The single-family homes were constructed along gentle curves in order to extend views further down the street, instead of across the street, and into any of the open space areas. Additionally, no two single-family homes face each other as a result of the coving method.

The BayHomes are located on much less wavy streets compared to the single-family homes, and in fact do face each other ever so slightly. However, in order to promote privacy, each home is staggered, allowing for unobstructed views out at least one side of the home.

Coving - An Innovative Streetscape Design

A roundabout dissipates traffic before entering the longer cul-de-sacs. Throughout the site, three-way intersections replace 4-ways, enabling fewer stops and reducing potential conflict points.

Coving - An Innovative Streetscape Design

While the site may look as if density is low, the 40 gross acres (about 36 acres net subtracting perimeter street right-of-way) actually contains 113 homes, or a respectable 3.1 homes per acre (net) density. The National Association of Home Builders states that, according to data collected in 2014, the average amount of homes per acre, for a development consisting of only single-family homes, is 2.1 homes per acre.

Remington Coves was the first site to use a new evolution in coving, where circular and semi-circular shapes form the home setback lines, allowing visible space to flow through the blocks and through the site.

Wavy walks, separated from the street by grass, replace the traditional straight sidewalks and meet pedestrian needs. The road widths were reduced to 28' wide without sacrificing safety due to the unobstructed field of view and lack of blind turns. Overall, the neighborhood was primarily designed to encourage pedestrian interaction and discourage using a car to go short distances.

Additionally, the coved plan uses about 25% less pavement for streets than a conventional plan, thus lessening impervious surface area. Also, there are generous buffers between all existing wetlands and any manmade structure.

In order to ensure emergency requirements were met, walkways between coves were built to width and strength standards to handle a fire engine. By doing this, these walks provide both pedestrian and emergency connections between the coves.

Oversized Cul-De-Sacs
The cul-de-sac at the southwest corner of the neighborhood is oversized and includes deeper-than-standard home setbacks.

Oversizing in this manner increases the geometric efficiency over a standard cul-de-sac, by accommodating more premium homes along the frontage, without altering overall density. Resultantly, front yard area and distances between neighbors is increased, as lots are no longer tight pie shapes.

Coving - An Innovative Streetscape Design

This is an aerial view of the "over-sized cul-de-sac" located in the southwest region of the development. It features a one-way lane that is comfortably wide enough for emergency vehicle access. Additionally, curbside parking increases due to the larger radius.

Coving - An Innovative Streetscape Design

Pictured is a trail that connects one cove with the next. The trail is built wide enough and strong enough for a fire truck to easily drive on it, helping with safety. The idea behind having these types of trails was to promote walking, as opposed to driving, and encourage social interactions.

Coving - An Innovative Streetscape Design

The cul-de-sac at the neighborhood's southeast corner becomes a park feature positioned along the main street, instead of at a remote dead end. This distinguishing feature connects the BayHomes and the rest of the site via trails and serves as a communal gathering place for the neighborhood.

Normally, a standard cul-de-sac forms a sea of asphalt whose only rationale is the radius of a fire engine turning radius. In contrast, the over-sized one provides storm water retention, accommodates snow removal and includes a landscaped safe recreation area for residents in the center.

Thru-walks ensure pedestrian connectivity not otherwise available with the dead-end cul-de-sac concept. They are implemented where needed, in order to connect cu-de-sacs to the rest of the neighborhood for walking and biking.

Pedestrian Connectivity
Walks are set in public access easements as they expand outside the right-of-way. If the city allows, they can be used to provide more space for utilities. The design of these walkways allow greater space for street trees, separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic and allow crosswalks away from intersections, which permit better sight distances and add to safety.

A key feature is the walkability and potential created for social interactions. All homes have a social front porch and since the openness is more in the front than rear, the actual use of the porch will be more than in a traditional design. The walk system is specifically designed to encourage neighbor-to-neighbor interaction and keep pedestrians and vehicles far apart.

How the Project Maximizes Success
This was the first coved neighborhood to use fourth generation coving techniques where the homes and streets form completely different patterns. The results being that views are seen through blocks without building extra streets or sacrificing density.

One of the challenges was that an existing coved neighborhood in Otsego had been altered during engineering to no longer connect pedestrians well or provide a sense of scale. As a result the city did not initially support additional coving projects. However, after the city council was given a list of unaltered coved neighborhoods to visit (which they did), the city staff and their consultants fully supported the Remington Coves design.

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