Monday, May 4, 2009

Kentlands Celebrates 20 Year Anniversary

The Maryland Gazette reports:

Time flies when you're having fun, says Bridget Ryder, executive director of the Kentlands Community Foundation. The Kentlands neighborhood celebrates its 20th anniversary this year as the nation's first New Urbanist community.

"It really has worked for those of us that live and work here," Ryder said last week. "It's not perfect but it is a special place," she said, describing the Kentlands as a "small town within a big town."

New Urbanism, an urban design movement that started in the early 1980s, promotes "walkable" communities where everything one could need is within a stone's throw of home. Residents and city officials took a risk on the concept 20 years ago, Ryder said. Now it's time to celebrate.

*Shrugs* The Kentlands is still just another suburb to me. A walkable suburb but still a very high priced suburb that you have to drive to get there. I've mentioned this in previous posts that I'm not to crazy about the Kentlands. I would be more impressed if the Kentlands were a successful infill development.

Anybody else have opinions on this?


Kirk Mantay said...

Kentlands is a pretty impressive packaging job. If you talk to the people who live there, it's less like "new urbanism" and more like, "new classism." They essentially want the suburban life packaged in a neat, "urban-like" environment. It's urban, but with good street lights, police presence, and no one who can't afford a $800,000 townhouse. And I'm pretty sure the residential part has very restrictive covenants. While it's "urban-like," it doesn't emphasize the true beauty (and mess) of American cities - different types of people, with different lifestyles (and life paths), all trying their best to live together.

Just think of the local, unique eateries within the Kentlands - Starbucks, Jerry's Subs, Subway, Baja Fresh, Panera, and 5 guys burgers. Yes, I know there are like 7 local sushi bars and 9 locally-owned kabob huts. But seriously!

At some point, New Urbanism (in America) will have to confront the reality that the people who can afford its indulgences are interested in the facade of urban living - not actual urban living.

Toure Zeigler said...

A lot of New Urbanism projects that occur in the suburbs is "urbanism" based on suburbanite terms. It's Faux Urbanism. Which in a way I can't be mad at because the alternative is often to build a sprawling suburb. However projects like the Kentlands shoudl be redefined as "New Suburbanism."

Because at the end of the day, these developments still are somewaht stale and are just replicas of each other lacking identity. Which are suburbs tend to be. But sadly a lot the these new urbanist projects are drifting into cities, turning neighborhoods which oncec had a great mixture of land uses, architecture and housing types into cookie cutter developments that wipe out any sense of character the neighborhood once had.

It's funny becaue New Urbanism is neo-traditional. Well let's hope that the old tradition of putting the middle class in large tidy rowhouses next to transit while the poor are warehoused next to an unwanted land uses doesnt return.