It would be ideal to live in a sweet, little community where your home is surrounded by cute shops, schools, restaurants and bars, a gym, doctors and churches — all within easy walking distance from your front door. It’s all very real and can be found in Norton Commons, the ‘new urbanist community’ in Prospect, Kentucky.
Marilyn Osborn Patterson, general counsel and marketing director for Norton Commons, says that new urbanism refers to a village-like area that incorporates a mixed-use component. “You’ve got a town center where there are commercial establishments. And in and around that town center are people’s residences,” she says. “That concept really rests on being able to walk to local businesses to take care of your daily necessities. So whether you need to go to the pharmacy, the doctor, restaurants or hair salons — all of that is available.”
The community of Seaside, near Destin, Florida, is the inspiration for Norton Commons. The land where Norton Commons sits was originally owned by George W. Norton, a progressive farmer and the founder of WAVE-TV. As farming became less lucrative, and more residential building was taking place in the area, the Norton family began seeking a buyer for the land. At the same time, the developers at the helm of the new urbanist concept were looking for a good parcel where they could implement their project. They developed a charrette, or master plan, and presented it to the Norton Family Trust. A sale was effectuated, the master plan was approved in 2001, and the development began in 2003. The first residents moved into the community during September 2005.
There are currently 1,500 households in Norton Commons, with more being built every day. Once the entire project is complete, there will be 2,880 homes with approximately 10,000 residents. Households include single-family units, apartments and townhomes. Some residents also run businesses in town, with living spaces above their establishments.
The homes vary in appearance, consciously avoiding that “cookie-cutter” feel into which many neighborhoods fall. “The idea behind the architecture is to give a nod to a variety of styles, especially the way homes were built in the early 1900s,” Marilyn says. “You might see something along the lines of the Spice Style, which was popular during the Victorian building era. They all have classic features with a big emphasis on courtyard spaces. You also have these great, public, front-facing porches. People have really made them into another room in their house and utilize them quite frequently.”
Norton Commons isn’t lacking when it comes to the aspect of businesses and amenities. The area boasts 70 service providers and stores, including shops for women’s clothing and accessories, home decor, skincare products and a full-service pharmacy. They even have a music school — the Kentucky Arts Academy. If you’re seeking a little nightlife, there are several bars and restaurants that open their windows during the warmer months. Plus, they have patio seating available as well. Feeling under the weather or need your teeth cleaned? Norton Commons has a variety of medical professionals in town. “We have three dermatologists, three dentists, a veterinarian and three family practitioners. The doctors do really well here,” Marilyn says. Other services include three schools, a church, a fishing lake, a YMCA and a fire department.
One very busy establishment is Salon Muse and Blow Dry Lounge, owned by Angela Nunn. They are a full-service salon that has been a part of Norton Commons for six years. Their services include hair color, haircutting, blowouts, hair treatments, waxing, makeup and natural nail services. “Visitors to Norton Commons should check us out because we are an upscale salon with a neighborhood feel,” Angela comments.
If you’re looking for a place to quench your thirst or have a delicious meal, Norton Commons has a variety of choices. “There are 10 dining and drinking establishments,” Marilyn says. “We have Verbena, which serves breakfast and lunch, Fix Coffeehouse and Bakery, our gelato shop called Gelato Gilberto, Karem’s Grill and Pub, 502 Bar and Bistro, plus Asian food, sushi, a pizzeria and Italian food. We also have Gustavo’s coming in, which is a well-known and popular, locally owned chain of Mexican Food.”
A favored spot in Norton Commons is Mercato Italiano, owned by Peter Pagano. The featured entrees are unique and include dishes such as squid ink pasta with spicy Nduja sausage, shrimp and sweet pickled peppers in a lobster broth, or the Costoletta — a 14-ounce pork chop wrapped in prosciutto, served with polenta, Brussels sprouts and topped with fig mostarda. Peter says he loves being a part of this close-knit community. “The support we get from the residents is fantastic,” he comments. “As a neighborhood, it continues to grow and evolve, and we love being a part of that culture.”
Gelato Gilberto opened in 2007, and they were the third business to make their home in Norton Commons. The owners, Justin and Karen Gilbert, found that they could purchase a work/living space, enabling them to reside right above their store. They serve tasty flavors like pistachio, dark chocolate, bourbon ball, peach mascarpone, butter bourbon pear, and white chocolate peppermint for winter. Besides gelato, they sell Nutella crepes, locally baked cookies, as well as a selection of pastas, sauces, coffee and other Italian grocery items from Italy.
Spending the night in Norton Commons is possible as there’s lodging available at the delightful bed and breakfast inn, Chateau Bourbon. Missy Hillock and her husband, John, opened their gorgeous B&B two days after Christmas, in 2015. The inn sits right in the middle of town, offering guests the opportunity to explore the nearby stores and shops. The Hillocks have been Norton Common residents for seven years, and the longer they lived there, the more they knew it was the perfect place for a B&B. There are four guest rooms decorated in soft, soothing tones; a common living room where they hold bourbon tastings; a guest pantry filled with snacks, water and ice; a business center and a big, farmhouse-style kitchen. Many of the inn’s furnishings have been custom-made by John, plus some of the furniture from Missy’s childhood home has been incorporated into the decor. Missy does all of the meal prep, offering three-course breakfasts to her guests. The B&B also opens its doors to those who want to hold private events such as baby and bridal showers.
Outdoor spaces and recreation facilities play a big role in the appeal of this community. Twenty parks dot the area, including convenient pocket parks, three dog parks and the 10-acre Oval Park, which has an adjacent, open-air amphitheater nestled next to a beautiful fishing lake. All parks are open to both residents and visitors. Each has a distinct style, some with shielded patios that are great for outdoor functions. Others have play areas for children with jungle gyms, swings and slides.
Residents can cool off during the dog days of summer at three community pools: Jimson Square Pool, Bergamot Pool and the newest pool, The Grove, which opened in the spring of 2019. “They all have different features,” Marilyn says. “One is a traditional rectangular pool with a shallow end and a deep end, and it’s good for swimming laps. Bergamot is a zero-entry pool with splash features. The entrance to the pool area is styled after a historic building that was a part of the former Fontaine Ferry Park. The newest pool is larger than both of the other pools combined, with a water playground and a big circular slide. It also has a cool outdoor fireplace and pavilion area.” These pools are only open to residents of Norton Commons.
There are plenty of walking trails throughout Norton Commons — perfect for residents and guests alike. Tucked away in one corner, are the beautiful wildflower and community vegetable gardens. Throughout the area, you’ll find custom-made fountains, plus a unique stone sculpture created by artist Marko Pogacnik. It’s quite easy to wind your way through the paths on foot, to see most of the areas.
In July of 2018, a pedestrian-only al fresco shopping area opened — the North Village Market, which consists of six cottages, each a little less than 200 square feet in size. The cottages offer opportunities for retailers to try their hand at selling on a smaller scale. The shops include Annie Rae’s Boutique, selling women’s clothing, accessories and home goods; Noted Boutique, with women’s clothing, accessories and makeup; and Ooh La Lemon, which sells home accessories. Food Truck Fridays are part of the summer fun at the Market, bringing in different food and beverage vendors such as The Blue Crab and False Idol. Local bands provide entertainment for these fun Fridays, kicking the atmosphere up a notch. If you’re in the mood for homegrown food, they also put on a terrific farmers’ market in the North Village, which begins in the spring and runs until the end of October.
The wide variety of entertainment opportunities and year-round festivals are an enticing aspect of Norton Commons. The outdoor amphitheater holds 2,500 guests and features musical performances as well as Shakespeare in the Park. During the summer, there are sunset street parties hosted by Tea Station Asian Bistro, which take place every other Thursday. You can enjoy a band, plenty of awesome food and lots of seating. In the spring, a community-wide arts festival happens in the center of town, where you can find more than 100 vendors selling hand-crafted items. During fall 2019, two main events took place — the Courier-Journal Wine and Food Experience and the Norton Commons Fall Festival. The Wine and Food Experience included the Grand Tasting — a gourmet showcase by local chefs and renowned culinary leaders — plus cooking demonstrations, chef meet and greets, and food seminars. The Fall Festival took place in the South Village Town Center, where kids were able to trick-or-treat, have their faces painted, ride a train and listen to lively music.
The Future Plans
The future looks very bright for Norton Commons. Further building is taking place in the North Village sector — there will be a town square in that vicinity, as well as more shops and retail amenities. According to Marilyn, buildings in that area will be powered by geothermal heating and cooling. Norton Commons is also excited to be hosting its third Homearama showcase in the North Village. The event will be held from July 11 through July 26, 2020, and feature up to 11 homes that face Oval Park. Juva Barber, Executive Vice President of the Building Industry Association of Greater Louisville, is thrilled to be heading back to Norton Commons. “We’re expecting an outstanding Homearama at this exceptional location,” she says. Visitors can enter these homes and experience various builders’ styles, as well as view the latest trends in home and garden decor.
Norton Commons stores, restaurants, doctors and other services are open to residents in the Louisville Metro area, and people of all ages can enjoy the parks and activities in this mixed-use community. Located approximately 20 minutes from downtown Louisville, Norton Commons offers a laid-back, easygoing neighborhood and lifestyle. For more information, you can check out the Norton Commons website.
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