My family and I were thrilled to spend a week around the 4th of July this summer in this charming community located on the Pacific Ocean in the state of Washington! We have been big fans of the beach towns of Seaside, Florida and others here in Florida, so it was fun to see the “Pacific Northwest” style! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We biked everywhere, hiked the beautiful forest trail, went horseback riding on the beach, swam in the 50 degree ocean, had a very patriotic 4th of July (complete with a decorated red, white, and blue front porch), and spent loads of great family time. We were even treated to a private tour of the new Coastal Living Idea House that had not opened at that time! It did open on July 16th, so we very much recommend that you visit both the Idea House and the whole community of Seabrook. They have homes to rent and/or purchase. You will not be disappointed!!
What made you decide to develop a coastal community in Washington, and how did you select the location?
The Washington Coast was a seriously underserved market when you compare the development along the Oregon Coast and its proximity to population. There is at least ten times more development near the Oregon Coast that serves half the population in comparison to Washington. It was only a matter of time before development similar to the Oregon Coast started sprouting up in Washington too. Fortunately for us, we found a place by the beach in WA that is unlike any other site on the coast in terms of topography (vs. flat elevation), beach protection (no driving on the beach), and public sewer & water access. The Washington Coast also lacked well designed “walk-able” coastal beach towns (i.e.: Carmel, CA – Cannon Beach, OR). We saw an opportunity and we took it.
What inspired the design and style of Seabrook?
The new urbanism movement inspired the initial concept, and towns like Seaside, Florida gave me the inspiration and assurance that we could build new towns from scratch again. This type of town building was simply a lost art due to sprawl based development that was focused on the automobile. The architectural inspirations for Seabrook were the best beach towns on the west coast and along the Puget Sound (Port Townsend, Langley, Coupeville, etc.)
What did you do for a career before developing Seabrook?
I started a painting business in college that led me to building my first house in 95’. This evolved into an interest in not only well designed homes that fit into the landscape, but also an interest in building walk-able towns where cars are not needed to meet your basic needs.
Did it take a lot of time to purchase the land before breaking ground on the first home? Explain the process….
It took about 3 years in total to purchase all of the property and negotiate all of the contracts since there were 7 different property owners. Once we had all that finalized, we were off to a running start building the homes and the beach town, and we haven’t looked back since.
We are quite impressed with the fact the Seabrook is selling a lot of homes, even with a “down” economy! What is your secret to success?
Strong pent up demand for an idyllic beach town in the greater Puget Sound area. We may be in the real estate business, but that is way too broad of a term for what we are trying to achieve out here on the WA coast. We know we have a great product that stems from an idea – a vision. In addition, most of our staff “live” in Seabrook and have all been thirsting for community in our own lives. We practice what we preach and our passion for building this town is very apparent. People realize that very quickly and our dedication has helped Seabrook become one of the most resilient second home markets in the country (40 new sales in last 12 months).
What are some of your ultimate goals for Seabrook, as far as size, number of homes, and commercial spaces?
Ultimately, Seabrook will feature three distinct villages with nearly 1,000 units. Firstly, this will include the approved town of Seabrook with its main street as designed and envisioned. Secondly, a more rural farm village with country Inn, B&B, organic farm, horse stalls and pastures will enrich our town while still being within close proximity to the ocean and the larger town of Seabrook. Thirdly and finally, Seabrook will develop the last village to the south that will be a mixed use lodge (ground floor retail, hotel, condominiums) that will all face the ocean with unobstructed views. This is arguably the most spectacular public view of the ocean on the Washington Coast and will be designed for day trippers, guests and those who call this place home.
What is your biggest dream/goal for Seabrook?
Creating a new model for the entire NW much like Seaside, FL became a new model for its region and beyond. Seaside is still relatively unknown to most people from the NW so it’s important we send a message that we still have the ability to build new towns from scratch. More importantly, it is necessary that we strive for these new towns to be public and open for everyone instead of private and gated like much of America’s suburban development. These new towns can greatly improve the quality of life for the resident while also using a fraction of the land needed to build suburban development.
Another impressive fact is that you are very involved in the surrounding area as far as charity. Describe the Seabrook Foundation and its function.
The Seabrook Foundation was created to leave the surrounding community in a better condition than before Seabrook was established. We are in the process of achieving this by improving the local school district, improving emergency infrastructure (i.e.: ambulance, medical equip., etc.), create opportunities for small business, food banks, etc. Since Seabrook’s beginning, about $700,000 has gone back to the community using a 1% gross sales tax on all real estate. We pledge the first 1% of each home sale and also require any new homeowners of a re-sale to contribute the same to the foundation so it is basically a tax on the land to ensure that we can make a difference not only in our life time but years to come. It is controlled by a 5 person board who is made up of people from the area who don’t live at Seabrook. This ensures transparency and directs the funds to those that need it most.
A huge draw for Seabrook is the new Coastal Living Idea House that opened July 16th and runs through October 31. Congrats!! How did Seabrook land this?
Thank you, we are so excited! It’s a great feeling to have such an established magazine select us for their idea house. Coastal Living Magazine really liked how we created a place that embraces the natural environment, regional architecture and the art of town making… a nice recipe
Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project, either in Seabrook or after Seabrook?
Hmm…I think a large production builder that embraces the principles of new urbanism and has an efficient building team that builds great real estate at an affordable price. The best example of this right now is the new town of Saint Charles, Missouri. A quality community should not be a luxury that only few can afford.
What is your idea of happiness on earth?
Just getting everyone to get along and grow sustainable communities that enrich our daily lives.
Which person has most influenced your direction in life?
Robert Davis (Seaside, Florida Town Founder). His work gave me the confidence that even a simple guy like me can build my own town.
Thank you, Casey for this fabulous interview! My family and I enjoyed our stay there, and we look forward to our next visit.
Readers, enjoy the following links to learn more about Seabrook and the Coastal Living Idea House:
Seabrook Website: http://www.seabrookwa.com/
Seabrook Blog: http://www.seabrookwa.com/blog
Coastal Living Home: http://www.coastalliving.com/homes/idea-houses/seabrook-idea-house-00414000067440/ Be sure to check out the October issue of Coastal living for more photos of the Seabrook Idea House!