Written By Linda Lewis
The planned community currently being built by Cantu Construction, in north McAllen, is very appealing. In fact, on my recent tour, I started envisioning living there myself. Once I entered the Villagio property through the gated entrance, I began to notice a distinctly different style of neighborhood.
The entrance had been nicely landscaped. That is something you would expect in an upscale neighborhood. But a few moments later, I encountered a lovely green area with walking trails and a playground. This was unexpected and captured my attention. I imagined walking with my loved ones in this attractive park–instead of in the street. I thought about the peace of mind this would bring me.
Peace of mind is an extremely important commodity in today’s world, and every aspect of this community is intentionally designed to create it. Most of us may think of the gated community as a grouping of single family homes, but they have been in existence since the first cities were built. If you have traveled to Europe, you probably visited historic walled cities that once had guarded entrances. We are all familiar with the famous, and sometimes infamous, New York City doormen as they have been portrayed in the movies. Doormen and security guards have been a longtime fixture in apartment buildings. Technically, this makes them “gated” communities. Clusters of single family homes have been enclosed within gated walls since the 1850s in the United States.
One of the earliest residential communities was built in San Francisco. It was an enclave of Victorian mansions known as Chester Place. The buildings and area have undergone a number of transformations, but the stone and steel gate are still standing. The concept of the gated community began to expand around the turn of the twentieth century when gated country club communities, in the suburbs, started springing up. Charles A. Birnbaum, the founder and president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, a non-profit based in Washington, says “They were designed as self-contained suburban utopias,” and adds that “It was like living in a park.” Besides living in an aesthetically pleasing environment, there are other rationales for living in gated communities.
The primary rationale behind a gated community is security. First, there is security from unwanted intrusions. Personal security is a top priority for many families today. A gated community, like this one, limits vehicular traffic and strangers from entering the community. Residents feel safer allowing their children to play in their front yards or in the community playground and they appreciate not having solicitors knocking on the door.
Second, there is a philosophy that it is important to build trusting and supportive social relationships, because it can enhance the security of the entire community. When people know one another, they are more likely to look out for each other. This is achieved through the sharing of common facilities. The community center is a perfect spot to meet and greet your new neighbors. An added feature of sharing facilities is that it contributes to financial security because sharing costs reduces personal expenditures.
Homeowners can also feel secure in knowing that they have purchased a home from a builder they can trust and who stands behind their product. Because the community is built and financed by a single developer, you won’t have to worry about what will be built next door to you. The Cantus have a long history of home building here in the Valley. Alonzo Cantu, the current owner, took the business over from his Father in 1978, and has successfully built a company with forty employees. From start to finish, the Cantu staff guides the homeowner through the process of customizing their home. Once the home is completed, Cantu Construction remains available if any problems arise.
I toured the models they have open for public viewing. The complex is comprised of 32 garden homes and 72 townhouses. The garden home is beautifully designed, but Cantu’s in-house architect will customize the design to fit your specific needs. Let me say first, that I love a foyer in a house because I like a transitional area between the front door and my private living space. These residences all have very nice foyers with niches added to the walls. Niches are an impressive and elegant way to display decorative items.
The living, dining and kitchen areas are spacious. The kitchen has a lot of counter area with a raised bar. A raised bar is great because it hides a messy counter from the living and dining area. There is a built-in cabinet and counter that could be used as a coffee or drink bar. Signature design features include quartz countertops and porcelain tile floors throughout the home. Engineered quartz contains 95% natural quartz, giving it a natural stone look. It is resistant to bacteria, scratches, impact and acids, comes in a multitude of colors and is low maintenance. Porcelain flooring is highly durable, moisture resistant and easy to clean, besides being very attractive.
The bedrooms are split, with the master in the back of the house and two good sized bedrooms in the front of the house. There is a small room, containing the laundry rom, that can be used as an office or maid’s room. A major amount of square footage is allotted to bathrooms and closets. Every bedroom has its own full bath. The master bath is truly covet worthy. There are three separate counters (two with sinks) in this spacious room. The closet is large and fitted with a built-in chest.
The exterior of the model garden home is a combination of stucco and stone. There is a tiled covered terrace in the small fenced backyard. It’s a nice private space. If you feel more social, or have a yen for wide-open spaces, then it is just a few steps to the park and community center. Build up a sweat in the exercise room or running on the trail, and then cool down in the pool. The pool deck is large enough for a big party, and there is a large galley style kitchen area with a barbecue pit. All amenities are included in the homeowners association fee.
Three floor plan options are offered in the townhouses. There is a one story plan with three bedrooms and three baths in 2,000 square feet. There is a two story with 2,450 sq. ft. It features a downstairs master bedroom, a formal dining area, two upstairs bedrooms, a loft, and two and a half baths. The bedrooms are all on the second floor in the third floor plan. The third plan has a formal dining room, and an open plan area with a breakfast nook, kitchen and living area. The bedrooms are all on the second floor. All units have two-car garages.
These homes are designed for efficiency and ease of care. The grounds and facilities are maintained by the homeowners association. They offer a sleek contemporary design with rooms that open naturally from one area to the next. The upscale finishes add that touch of luxury we are all looking for.
The Villagio provides many of the advantages reminiscent of a “country club” community. It is a tranquil gated enclave that is impressively landscaped and thoughtfully cared for. This community embodies a relaxed sense of leisure living and the benefits of graceful community planning that promotes a feeling of security, privacy and belonging.