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New Urbanism vs. Conventional Residential Development

When we started thinking about Montava 2 1/2 years ago, we visited a community called Prospect Newtown in Longmont, CO. It was designed by DPZ on 80 acres that was once an orchard on the southern edge of town. There was something special about this community that I did not understand. When I told a young lady on our team that we were taking a group to visit Prospect, her face lit up. I’ll never forget what she told me.

“I lived there, I loved it! It’s the greatest place I have ever lived.”

Fast forward to today and we have made tremendous progress on Montava. While challenges remain, the enthusiasm grows.

One aspect of new urbanism is thoughtful architecture.

Yet, some have asked this question: “What makes Montava so different from other residential developments? Everyone else is building houses, parks and sidewalks. Why is Montava different?” This same question can be asked about Fort Collins development in general compared to surrounding cities, because many of the ingredients that make Montava different are part of the Fort Collins land use code which will direct remaining undeveloped land as Fort Collins builds out. It can become one connected, very special place to live.

Over the next few weeks our team will write a series of blogs to answer this question. We will talk about New Urbanism and describe the critical elements of a successful New Urbanist community. We will talk about what life is like in New Urbanist communities, and why Fort Collins’ remaining land can create such a special place as a model for others.

New Urbanism vs. Conventional Residential Development:

How are homes and builders different?

How are streets, trails, connections different?

How are community amenities and parks different?

How is the development process different?

What are the environmental impacts of this development approach?

How does Montava go beyond traditional New Urbanism? (ZERH standards, Nature in the city, Natural Areas, Native Hill Farm, Affordable Housing)

Finally, we will wrap it up asking “how is life different here?”

As someone who is following Montava’s progress, we hope you find this series interesting and educational. The ideas of New Urbanism aren’t really new. In fact, this may more accurately be labeled “Old Urbanism”, because we are going back to how things used to be done before modern economic systems began dictating how we create community.

Norton Commons is a DPZ community in Louisville KY. Compared to the conventional community next door, some differences of "whole town" development become more apparent.

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