I wandered into the Monday night weekly celebration at Prospect in Longmont. Designed as a New Urbanist community by the usual suspects, it has matured into a real place with a heart and soul. This was in fine evidence on Monday night when food trucks circled the green, highlighted by live music, dogs, kids, wine, and good conversation with old friends. It is interesting how the physical place enables the event: the road for the trucks, the green surrounded by buildings with some mass, and a nearby liquor store in my building as a supplement to the trucks!
Unlike many 'master-planned' communities, this has evolved into a wonderful and quirky kind of place thanks to individualism and character: in the architecture, in the shops, and the people. Kiki Wallace, the developer, is a character whose spirit imbues the place ... and his insistence that the lots be sold and developed a few at a time rather than by a larger developer in builder. I took advantage of this with a small mixed use project as did many others, giving the place an idiosyncratic feel. This has created diversity in the character of the place from a neo-traditional older section (older means only a little over years or so but in a quirk of fate the older section has the traditional architecture!) to the newer contemporary buildings in the commercial area. I chose to develop and design a small mixed use building here that has been, like Prospect itself, a mix of design exploration, marginal real estate, and mellowing with time. As a friend who moved to Prospect from Boulder says, the place has a feeling of quality, of community, of soul that he did not find in the Holiday Neighborhood. The big difference is not only the people but also the leadership set by Kiki. It is nearly impossible to have that quirkiness in a larger commercial developer, the one-off incremental lot development, the mixed use, the range of styles and approaches ... It has also been helped along by being on the site of Kiki's family tree farm so there are beautiful mature trees!
In a search for authenticity and meaning in our world, especially in the realm of contemporary design and the making of new places, it is refreshing to see where it actually works! A number of factors have conspired to pull this off; it has been a long and sometimes difficult road for Prospect but it slowly just gets better and better. And the pulled pork sandwich and the lamb sliders were excellent!