Maybe it was because Anthony, Grenadier Homes’ president, and I were raised in households where our parents first spoke to us in foreign languages? Maybe it was because we both visited the small villages where our parents were raised in Fossacesia, Italy and Xino-Nero, Greece, as young boys for extended family vacations? Maybe it was partly because we grew up together in Toronto, Canada, and experienced the heart of the city either at college or in our early professional years? Or possibly because Anthony and I had the chance to backpack and visit many of Europe’s great cities: Venice, Rome, Stockholm, Paris, Vienna, etc?
As we started Grenadier Homes in our mid 20s, Anthony and I just had this feeling about what made a place great, and it did not matter whether it was in a world class city or a small village; we realized that life should be celebrated daily and not just as a weekend or annual vacation privilege. Life, and the connection with other people in your city and neighborhood, should be more enjoyable without having to spend a fortune to experience a re-creation of it somewhere else.
What are the ingredients that create this dynamic and harmonious life energy? First you add people walking, talking and lounging in a piazza or central square. At night after a wonderful dinner, they call it the Passeggiata (in Italy) and the Volta (in Northern Greece), and it means strolling along the sidewalks or pedestrian friendly streets and talking about the day’s events with friends, family, and most importantly, all others from the local neighborhood. Perhaps a break at a Cafe for a Cappuccino or a Trattoria for Vino in Italy; or a Taverna break for a Greek Coffee or an Ouzo in Greece? Maybe its time for a tasty appetizer – Antipasto in Italy or a Meze in Greece?
No matter the size of the village or city, and no matter the quality of the furnishings, one thing is always present, that people are walking, talking, eating, drinking, and enjoying everyday life. Enhancing this daily experience are the lush landscape gardens, the perfectly-placed pocket parks, the people-friendly pedestrian streets, the shade-giving large street trees, the human-scale architecture with classic long life materials, the outdoor gastronomic patios; and the feeling that this place was built for enjoyment outside and not just inside, and that the car was secondary and the people primary.
This was easier for some of the early great cities, because something happened as cars and televisions were added to the mix. People stopped doing many of these things. Cities changed or grew rapidly in the direction of maximizing vehicle travel efficiency to and from work or shopping or ‘fill in the blank’. Gone was the organic daily enjoyment of life in the city or neighborhood. Our priorities shifted as a society and life became more of a daily hassle and grind. We all scratched our heads and wondered where it all went?
Upon our arrival in Dallas and fresh with the ideas and inspirations from our backpacking travels, Anthony and I formed Grenadier Homes in 1991 and started building homes in Uptown, Dallas, because it was part of the heart of the city. We loved all the literature we could find about city planning and new urbanism. We lived and officed in the State Thomas Historic District and started the very first townhome development, and we experienced the neighborhood and believe we contributed a few small pebbles to the re-birth of the urban core in Dallas. We see today thousands of residences where we started our homebuilding career. We now see this momentum moving to other new urban areas like The Shops of Legacy and Bishop Arts District. Anthony and I talk to all our friends and associates, and one thing we hear over and over again is how great it is that Dallas is becoming a place where you can go and experience a slice of ‘great city life’.
One of Grenadier Homes’ goals is to help bring more of that ‘great city life’ to the small neighborhoods we create. We have a deep passion to create unique and memorable spaces where some of those great city or village place ingredients are present. We are not saying we are creating a whole new city, or even a village, but what we always keep in mind is that the homes and neighborhoods we build will have as much planning and opportunity to re-create that glorious feeling of energy where life is celebrated daily. In many ways, the master planned communities where we are building, have more amenities than many of those urban core cities, especially those amenities for recreational activities. When you think about the place you are calling home, you may not give a second thought to any of these things, but we promise to you that we, and all the people helping us at Grenadier Homes, are carrying out this vision, and not only thinking about it, but debating it, and sometimes fighting for more creative ways to make it happen when the budget is tight. You probably get the feeling that we are not your usual production homebuilding company. When we hear the words subdivision, floor plan, and square footage, we think single dimensional, linear, arithmetic and boring. When you hear the music, and the birds, and the voices, and the wind rustling leaves, and the clanging of glasses, we hope you realize that you just chose to “Live Your Best Life” and you are celebrating life as a daily habit in your Grenadier Home, with your Grenadier neighbors, and in your Grenadier neighborhood. If someone asks you how many square feet you live in, maybe a good reply would be “I don’t live my life by a tape measure!”.
The only way we change our lives and our cities, is if we all choose life over linear spaces. Just like a PEBBLE thrown into still water, it hits the water and transfers the energy to the surrounding water, and the radiating impact causes a ripple effect, and all neighboring water follows suit.