Real Estate by Sara Gray

New Urbanism Goes Rural

A coastal developer brings an old-fashioned sense of
community to three brand new beach towns.

When casey roloff built his first New Urbanist beach town on the Oregon Coast, he knew it needed to be unique. There was so much development going on at the time in Lincoln County, where he planned to build, that his had to be different than every other development.

And Bella Beach was different. From the craftsman-style details on each of the beach cottages to the wooded trails and shared green spaces, it had a different feel and a different purpose than anything else in the Lincoln City area. He and his staff call what they do the “art of town building.

”“It’s set up in a way where you feel more comfortable with the people around you, designed in a way that nudges you to interact with your neighbor,” Roloff says. “Most of the

Urban Goes Rural
communities being built on the Oregon Coast are really designed for privacy and exclusivity.”

The neighborhoods mix in a few rental cottages so that even if most of the homes are second homes, there are always people around enjoying the beach and the surroundings.

“By allowing vacation rentals, it makes the communities more vibrant because there are more people there, so there’s more interaction,” Roloff says. “People are turning Bella Beach into a tradition for their families.”

Now, as Bella Beach continues to develop with a small commercial district, Roloff is working on two other coastal projects based on the same principles: Seabrook, on the Washington coast near Pacific Beach, and Olivia Beach, the
smallest of the three, adjacent to Lincoln City’s Nelscott neighborhood.

These New Urbanist communities are slowly changing the way new development is done near the beach. Instead of building large homes that obstruct the ocean views for houses situated behind them, the heights are carefully planned to allow everyone a pleasant view. There is no clear-cutting, but instead the nestling of streets and districts into the existing landscape.

The Seabrook Land Company, which runs construction, plan-ning, sales, and rentals for all three towns, is a family-based company that invests in the
surrounding communities and provides jobs for local people.

“In all our projects, we’ve always been focused on local workers and supplies,” Roloff says. “We go out of our way to keep the money in the counties where we’re working.”

Each of the towns has an established community development fund, which is made up of one percent of gross sales.

“These community foundations help start up small businesses that are native to the area, and they also help to celebrate local art,” Roloff says. “It’s a sustainable community fund.”

The company also takes responsibility for infrastructure upgrades so that they don’t become a strain on local economies. In Pacific Beach, Seabrook paid for an extension of the local sewer system to accommodate the new construction and bought a new fire engine for the local fire department.

The goal in all three villages is for residents to be able to meet all their basic needs without having to drive. Commercial districts in each neighborhood allow people
to enjoy the scenery while walking or riding bicycles.
“It’s set up in a way where you feel more comfortable with the people around you, designed in a way that nudges you to interact with your neighbor.”  
urban goes rural
Above: Developer Casey Roloff with daughter Lucy.
Left: Seabrook, on the Washington coast.
Top: Bella Beach, on Oregon’s Central Coast.
urban goes rural


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