Prospect New Town: Building a Community in Longmont Colorado

 

What’s Prospect New Town? Let me put it this way…

Have you ever been walking through a city only to turn a corner and find yourself on a magical street? Maybe you were in a new town on vacation or a work trip. Maybe you were exploring the streets in your hometown.

I’m talking about the kind of street that seems too good to be real. It’s lined with trees and flower boxes. Kids are playing. People are gathered around porches talking. A cool breeze makes all the rhododendrons dance. Time stands still.

It’s as if the street were waiting for you to come by for a walk and glass of iced tea. It could be a backdrop straight from the set of Pleasantville.

Someone built this street to make humans happier. There are diverse architectural styles, diverse populations, beautiful shared spaces, small businesses flourishing in small buildings. And you just feel at home.

What if you walk farther up that magical street? And you discover it leads to another magical street, and then another. One lovely, shaded lane after another. The streets branch and unfold into the most charming neighborhood you’ve ever seen.

Yes, it’s real. No, you’re not dreaming.

You might be in a New Urbanist community.

If you’re waving your hand right now, saying “Yes! Yes! That happened to me in Longmont, Colorado!” you’ve already been to Colorado’s first New Urbanist project: Prospect New Town.

What is New Urbanism

New Urbanism is an approach to urban development that aims to foster sustainable community. It’s a reaction against sprawl and the impersonal characteristics of suburbia. Gone are the enormous front yards and cookie-cutter houses. Characterless garage doors greeting passersby are a thing of the past. Broad streets that cater to cars more than pedestrians have been traded in.

So what will you find in a New Urbanist development? You’ll find a variety of architectural styles for home and commercial use (e.g. Craftsman and Modern). You’ll see mixed-use blocks and buildings, businesses and homes occupying the same structures. There’s a diverse, high-density population. You’ll enjoy narrow, walkable, tree-lined streets that accommodate both pedestrians and vehicles. Homes have small front yards that bring the porches closer to the sidewalks, encouraging interaction among residents. And there are plentiful shared open spaces for talking with your neighbors (parks, sports fields, patios).

Similar developments include Seaside in Florida and Kentlands in Maryland. You might recognize Seaside as a filming location for the Truman Show.

The Congress for the New Urbanism states in its charter (see link at the end of this article) that it stands for “…the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy.” In short, let’s all live happily ever after.

That’s a vision most people can get behind.

Prospect New Town

Prospect is a New Urbanist community at the southwestern edge of Longmont, a town of 90,000 people at the base of the Rockies. It’s 15 miles northeast of Boulder, which has a similar New Urbanist community called Holiday Neighborhood.

According to the Prospect website (see link at the end of this article), it’s “now in its fourth phase of development [and] will eventually have up to 585 units on 340 lots.” Kiki Wallace bought the land from his family in the mid-1990s. At the time, it was an 80-acre tree farm. Then he hired the renowned architectural firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) to design a New Urbanist development. And it’s still growing.

There’s a four bed, one bath house under contract for approximately $548,000. There’s also a three bed, two bath townhome available for $475,000. A four bed, five bath townhome sold recently for $624,000. Rentals this week (house, apartment, commercial) range from about $1600 to almost $3000 per month.

A Good Fit?

It could be said that the New Urbanist approach tries to force community. The same physical environment that fosters interaction might feel stifling to some people. As though it’s railroading them into community. The poet Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Judging by the popularity of Prospect and similar developments, not everyone shares that view. Plenty of people are smiling in Prospect. And they’re likely people who knew it offered exactly what they wanted. What do you want?

How much do you like interacting with neighbors? Do you prefer to take an elevator straight from your parking garage to your 14th-floor apartment? And stay inside until Monday? Then this probably isn’t your dream community. Do you prefer an isolated balcony to an exposed front porch? There are better options for you than Prospect.

But if you want to enjoy quiet streets, a variety of open spaces, and mixed-use buildings and blocks — and you want to enjoy them with other people — this could be perfect for you.

The defining theme of Prospect is that it exists to foster community. You’ll learn people’s names. They’ll call to you on your porch. An isolated commute is a thing of the past. For a happy Prospect dweller, open spaces make good neighbors.

Imagine a built environment that combines the wholesomeness of Mayberry (remember the Andy Griffith Show?) with the modern vibe of Whole Foods. Prospect is a 21st-century interpretation of the neighborhoods that were common in pre-1950s America. Home in Prospect is a shared experience. It isn’t a place to hibernate before driving back to the world.

We often look to the past for clues about living happier, more fulfilling lives today. New Urbanism, and Prospect New Town, provide the physical space that encourages just that. All it needs is you.

For more information, including listings, see www.prospectnewtown.com.

To learn more about New Urbanism, see www.cnu.org.

For more of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company’s work, visit www.dpz.com.

 

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