Seaside is a “New Urbanism” community. The first in the market along the Gulf of Mexico. It was started in the mid 1980’s. The concept is old Florida style cottage homes around a central town square. The residential home sites are almost built out. The central square has many retail establishments. The community is heavily restricted with regard to landscaping and home design. All buildings must be reviewed and approved. The same is true for additions and remodels.
The property was purchased in 1946 by J. S. Smolian as a beach resort and the community was envisioned and planned by his grandson, Robert Davis, an award winning builder/developer in Miami. Seaside received international acclaim in the early nineties through the movie, “The Truman Show” which starred Jim Carey and was filmed at Seaside. The development is centered around a Town Center, which includes a pavilion, post office and kiosks surrounded by a mixed use Live/Work complex of buildings.
Seaside is one of the areas’ most desirable master planned communities. Seaside abuts the Watercolor development. Seaside is an 80± acre master planned, urban resort that was founded in the eighties designed by renowned Miami architects, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk the same group that later designed PUD Rosemary Beach. Home owners’ monthly fees are reportedly around $350 per month.
The homes are all located on single lots that cannot be subdivided. Many have guest homes that are detached from the main home. A few have apartments in the main home. Heights of the homes are controlled to capitalize on view corridors and the community itself. Naturally, these view corridors were created to maximize the views for all properties. Each home is required to have a personalized picket fence. Most of the homes are used for seasonal rental or second homes. All of the homes must conform to exterior with regard to material.
Ruskin Place and Early Morning Hours occupy 26 lots in the center of the development. They are two separate but adjacent sections. Both are classified as townhomes with a free standing common wall. The homes in Ruskin Place can have a studio on the ground floor. They can be rented with some units retail approved. In addition, there is a large central park in this part of Seaside.
Gulf front homes are similar to those around the central square. The gulf front homes are separated by County Highway 30-A, a two-lane paved road that runs along the Gulf of Mexico. Each street in Seaside that runs north and south has its own beach access walkover. Each of these walkovers are individually designed and are maintained by the home owners’ association.
The existing retail and commercial businesses are both developer and individually owned. Originally, the developer retained ownership of all commercial real estate with the exception of two tracts. Over time, the developer issued releases of commercial lots around the central square. The businesses within the Seaside community adequately support the needs of the community including a small grocery store.
There are mixed use building all around the central square. All have retail on the ground floor. There are offices and residences on the second and upper floors. Common areas include private brick paver type streets, clay pedestrian paths, pools, tennis, Central Square, theater, and a Lyceum. There is a state approved charter school with its own buildings.
There is also a central on-site rental management agency which was sold in 2005. It continues to handle the rentals for Seaside owners. Seasonal rentals of second homes are common to Seaside and the beach resort market. Seaside has been the subject of numerous publications including articles and documentaries. Seaside has won awards for architecture and design on a national level. Seaside has national, international, local, and regional recognition.