Susan Bady has been writing about the housing industry for 25 years. She most recently served as senior editor of design for Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines, and is now a contributing editor to those publications as well as the portal Web site HousingZone.com. Bady has also written for such consumer magazines as Cabin Life and Better Homes and Gardens’ Home Plan Ideas. You can reach her at email@example.com.
A new theme park just opened in Houston, and it’s not Six Flags. MainStreet America is a collection of 12 show homes, ranging from 1,800 to 6,000 square feet and representing a smorgasbord of architectural styles.
On the surface it sounds like a parade of homes, but the vision for this project is different, and much bigger. MainStreet America will be open all year round. It features an on-site restaurant and meeting facilities. Family and seasonal events will be held at the park. And all of the homes were designed and built by the same company: Design Tech Homes, a Houston firm owned by Michael and Barbara Feigin.
Michael Feigin spent 10 years planning and developing MainStreet America. The homes feature products from more than 100 manufacturers including Bosch, Carrier, Heatilator, Kohler and Owens Corning. But visitors don’t have to worry about taking notes. As they arrive, they’re given a hand-held electronic Technological Education Device or TED (actually a Google Nexus tablet). TED can instantly scan a programmed product tag on thousands of items in the park and provide information that is then saved to an account created especially for the visitor.
The fully furnished and decorated homes range in style from French Hill Country and Greek Revival to Old World and Italian Mediterranean. Feigin will update the technologies as new ones become available — meaning the homes will be periodically renovated or updated or, if necessary, torn down and rebuilt.
It will be interesting to see how many families make MainStreet America a vacation destination. If anyone reading this blog gets a chance to visit, please let me know what you think.