Best new city neighborhood: Barrio Santa Rosa

In Tucson

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The story behind the neighborhood: According to Tom, it was "a very scary place" when he moved here in 1989. Since then, it has evolved slowly and on a house-by-house basis. Now it's a friendly, ethnically mixed neighborhood of younger families and longtime residents, and the downtown is being revitalized.

Want in? Average price runs about $400K ( www.rammedearth.com). The cost of new or remodeled housing runs $200 to $300 per square foot, including land. Demand is high, and housing stock is limited. A nearby planned development called Rio Nuevo, which is just beginning construction, also celebrates colonial Mexican architecture.

Other new city places we love
Conover Commons in Redmond, WA, is one of Northwest architect Ross Chapin's and Cottage Company's "pocket neighborhoods." The award-winning answer to the challenge of small-scale development features a dozen well-designed two-bedroom, two-bath cottages surrounding a garden courtyard. www.cottagecompany.com

Downtown Albuquerque is enjoying a loft boom, and the most intriguing project is at the Gothic-style 1914 Albuquerque High School. Located in the EDo (or East Downtown) neighborhood, the in-city village will feature 180 "on-campus" lofts, 54 of them in the former gym. www.abqhigh.com

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