Neo-Traditional Community Review
Emerging Babel
Denver (Longmont)

  1. Size: 80 acres (0.125 square miles).

  2. Planned development: 338 units: 173 detached, 61 townhomes, 25 Studios, 28 Patio Homes, 41 Mixed Use Housing, 10 attached work spaces.

  3. Located in the Denver metropolitan area in the city of Longmont, approximately 35 miles from downtown.

  4. Designed by Kentlands & Seaside architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. Sales agent reports lessened influence of these in the second phase (below).

  5. The 2000 review found that in some ways Prospect is designed more consistently with new urbanist principles than most other developments. Higher density, many well designed retro homes (especially arts & crafts), a community small enough that all homes will be within walking distance of most, if not all retail establishments.

  6. The 2001 review considers the development to have taken an unfortunate turn toward far less satisfying designs. The second phase, now under construction contains radical departures from any sort of retro or consistent design. Referred to as "contemporary," these are likely to be viewed unforgivingly by devotees of more traditional architecture. If other new urbanist developments mimic these designs, such as bauhaus, "V" shaped roof profile, quonset hut roofline and imitiation feed store, the movement may face a premature demise. A virtual Babel of designs is emerging. It is assumed that this is at least partially attributable to the lessened influence of Duany and Plater-Zyberk in Phase 2.

  7. Some failures are structural --- impossibility of building a community with auto competitive transit access to a metropolitan region, and impossibility of developing a commercial district capable of attracting the higher income people that must necessarily occupy the comparatively expensive housing.

  8. Neo-Traditional Rating: 1.83 (Fails to achieve neo-traditional ideals) on a scale of 1 to 5.

    Criteria Objective Case Rating
    Walkable Community Stores within walking distance (1/4 mile) of all residences. Plan: all residences appear to be within 1/4 mile of stores. 3
    Transit Oriented Development Automobile competitive transit service providing service to entire urban area Transit competitive service provided only to downtown Denver (11 percent of metropolitan job market) 2
    Housing Prices Mix of housing prices, including affordable housing. Housing prices start at approximately $300,000 for townhomes and $400,000 for detached, both more than double the metropolitan median in Denver. Affordable housing to be provided through one-room flats above garages (single rooom units of approximately 600 square feet). No affordable detached housing or townhouses. 1
    Density 7 housing units per acre minimum (12,000 per square mile) Estimated 4.2 units per acre (7,300 per square mile, 60 percent of the 12,000 objective). No green belt. Planned attached studio housing unlikely to be built, which will reduce population density 2
    Impact on Suburbanization Infill -- does not contribute to suburbanization Greenfield --- contributes to suburbanization 1
    Balance of jobs and residences Community provides a balance of jobs and residences, reducing the necessity to commute by automobile Aggressive plans for retail employment within the community. Employees in these establishments are not likely to have the income to live within the community. 2
    Market oriented development No subsidies or tax breaks Unknown ---
    Composite Rating 1.83
    Rating System:

    5: Substantially Exceeds Objective

    4: Exceeds Objective

    3: Meets Objective

    2: Fails to Meet Objective

    1: Substantially Fails to Meet Objective

    Nothing in this review is meant to suggest that any neo-traditional development is not a desirable community. Most are well designed and attractive. To the extent that any such development fails to achieve neo-traditional (new urbanist) objectives is more than likely a reflection that the objectives themselves are impractical and largely unachievable in an environment that depends upon consumer choice in a free market.

    Central village park (2000.02)

    Housing above garages

    Commercial buildings with housing above

    (c) 2000 --- Wendell Cox Consultancy --- Permission granted to use with attribution.
    Demographia is "pro-choice" with respect to urban development.
    People should have the freedom to live and work where and how they like.

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