Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Under Construction

I know that I'm a Johnny (or is that Janey?) Come Lately to Celebration, having missed out on the early years. But there is one experience that I will have, along with the residents who come after me in Aquila Reserve and Artisan Park, that will be missed by the people who move in when our fair town is finally built out: Living in a construction zone.

Celebration is a large area, and it's been under construction since 1994, as Main Village expanded into West, and then North creeped out in one direction while South headed in another, with Lake Evalyn in between. Roseville Corner sprang up, and East Village continued the spread, along with its Aquila Reserve offshoot, and Artisan Park is taking on a life of its own.

When we first visited town in October of 2002, South Village was still a hotbed of construction. The condominiums that now line Celebration Avenue and spread down along Spring Park Loop were nothing but plans on a survey map and a flattened plot of land. By December, when we met our Realtors and decided on a triplex instead of a condo, East Village was only a shadow of its current self. When we visited the site of our future home, it was merely a barren patch of ground sporting nothing but lot markers and deer tracks. I still have photos of my husband and I standing cheerfully in front of the marker posts, our minds dancing with dreams of the house that still lay nearly a year in the future.

Now South Village is mostly built out, as are the villages that came before it, other than a few scattered lots here and there. The deer still come to visit in East Village, but now they trek across streets and lawns that have been carved out of their former habitat and taken over by two-legged creatures.

But we still have a good chunk of undeveloped property in my neighborhood, and I happen to live kitty-corner across the alley from some of it. Our unit is the farthest from the construction site in our triplex, but it's still close enough to be within shouting distance of the condos that are rapidly springing up. There are townhomes that will share our alley, too, but they're a little farther down.

I am continually amazed at how the buildings that are going up seem to change almost by the day. It's like some amazing magic trick: skeletal structure, then voila! Walls have suddenly sprung up from the earth! Open building, then abracadabra! A roof appears practically overnight!

I'm sure that the process was just as rapid on our home, but we weren't around as much to see it. We were dependent on visiting every month or two and getting our fix in between times through the kindness of a neighbor-to-be who posted frequent photos on the web for us.

With construction comes the inevitable noise, traffic, and trash, not to mention blocked roads and alleys, clouds of dust, destroyed lawns, and other little inconveniences. We are far enough away from the construction site (about three houses down) to be spared the worst of it. We get a lot of the noise, and when we leave home we often face blocked roads, but since the alley is one way, the heavy traffic doesn't pass us. And believe it or not, after you've been around the noise for a while, you pretty much become immune to it. I thought it would be a bother, but now I rarely notice it unless someone points it out to me.

We do have one poor neighbor across the alley and on the corner who has undergone untold traumas. Each day, the trucks make more of a mish-mash of the poor man's lawn, and I've heard from other neighbors that they've managed to damage his sprinklers, too. He is just about as close as you can get to the construction zone, so I'm sure he gets the brunt of the noise and trash as well (contruction workers love to litter with pop cans and bottles, food wrappers, building debris, and whatever else they can manage to toss around). If I were him, I'd probably be ballistic by now.

The construction has brought some amusement, too. For some reason, I was really tickled with the second and third stories of the condos were just being built and a "porta potty in the sky" was installed on those upper slabs. Another bit of constuction humor can be viewed if you click here. This photo from East Village shows that bored electricians can have a sense of humor.

Sure, construction can be inconvenient, but I guess you have to accept that risk when you move into a brand-new neighborhood. We knew when we bought our home that the townhomes and condos would be springing up soon. I heard that they sold out very quickly, and it's no wonder, as they are in a perfect location. The condo we would have purchased near Spring Park was in a much more heavily trafficked area. It would have been very convenient to the pool, but there would be a constant stream of people going by. In East Village, the condos are situated across from park-like areas and little patches of nature reserve. If the triplex hadn't been an option, I would have much rather moved into one of these instead of the South Village location.

One thing that has been rather fun has been to see people drive up occasionally and get out of the car to look at the buildings and snap a bunch of photos, much as my husband and I once did. Obviously they are purchasers, checking up on their new home's progress. They have that same happy, excited look of anticipation that my husband and I had a year ago.

I hate to admit it, but living in Celebration has become the norm for me now. I love it, but I'm starting to take it for granted. Seeing the newcomers gives me a chance to see things through their eyes and capture some of that sense of excitement that overwhelmed me when I first came to town.

I wonder if the people I've seen are planning for furniture already, and getting stressed about coordinating all the utilities and insurance, and pulling together the final mortgage details. There's so much to do, and the time goes by so fast. At first, it seems like your home will never be done, and then suddenly your closing is only a month or two away and you're mired in all those last minute details. But somehow, with a bit of luck and pixie dust, it all comes together in the end.

I wonder if they're curious about who their new neighbors will be; I remember hearing a few tidbits from the builder about the people who would be moving in around us. I had already met one of my next door neighbors on the internet, but I didn't know anything about the people on the other side or the person who was moving into the mirror unit of ours on the other end. Now, it seems like I've known them forever. In less than a year, we have had many good times and memories to look back on already (waffle breakfasts, kitty cat visits, holiday eggnog, a tipsy New Years Day toast, and our recent Fourth of July excursion, to name just a few).

It looks like our first new neighbors will be moving in quite soon, as I noticed the other day that there were trash cans and recycling bins in the driveways of two of the townhomes. One of the condo buildings also appears to be just about ready to welcome its first families.

A year or two from now, I'm sure that the noise and dust and inconvenience will be only a memory, and East Village will be all built out. Aquila will follow, then Artisan, and then Celebration will be complete a little over a decade after its inception. I know I'll be glad that I won't have to deal with the inconveniences anymore. It's a pain to have our alley blocked or to see the trash blowing over to my yard, and I can't even imagine the trauma of that poor guy on the corner.

But in a way, I'll be a little melancholy. By then, I'll have been in Celebration for a few years already, and I'm sure that sense of complacency will grow. It won't be a new adventure anymore; it will be the status quo, and I'm worried that I'll take my wonderful hometown for granted. Without any more new places going up, I'll forget the hunt for my own place and that excitement that entailed. I won't see anymore dreamy-eyed people visiting their construction site, and I'm afraid I'll forget what it was like when I was a visitor myself.

Sure, there will still be new people moving it, but it will be a bit different. It's exciting to buy an existing home, but you miss out on the delicious expectancy of the construction process.

Construction is a pain, but it's also a good thing when it lets us see Celebration with new eyes again. I never want to forget what it was like when I first came to town. I'll always keep one of the photos of me standing by our lot marker in a place of honor where I can see it every day. I hope that it will remind me of that wonderful year when I watched my dream come to life, a little more each month, right before my eyes.

Learn more about Celebration on my website: www.celebrationinfo.com

No comments: