Montgomery Farm, on the border of Allen and Plano, is an example of how thoughtful design and planning can result in development that creates a sense of place and ensures the protection of natural resources, while still meeting the needs of a rapidly-growing community.
The property belongs to the Williams family, which has been at the forefront of conservation efforts in Texas for decades, and the planning team includes a collection of leading experts in land planning, architecture, landscape design and conservation development. They have taken a non-traditional approach to the community’s planning and design and within this planning process are numerous examples of the Principles of Development Excellence.
For example, Montgomery Farm provides a variety and balance of development options and land use types by offering residents the best of both worlds – a natural setting in the middle of suburbia plus the convenience and proximity to a variety of high-quality shopping, entertainment and employment centers.
Montgomery Farm represented one of the last remaining infill locations on the western border of Allen and Plano. Its rich features of woodland habitats, prairie lands and the Rowlett Creek winding through the property meant that thoughtful design and a conservation ethic was imperative to the final plans for the development.
Protection of natural resources and ecosystems are at the forefront of every development decision at Montgomery Farm. Half of the 500-acre development has been set aside as green space, public parks, protected meadows, natural preserves and woodland gardens. Public access is provided along the creeks and open space by way of an intricately designed trail system that connects to Allen’s master trail system.
In addition, developers have transplanted thousands of trees in the path of development to an onsite tree farm. They are being replanted as parks, commercial projects and residential neighborhoods are completed.
Wood recycled from the demolition of a Dallas shopping mall has been used for bridges, signage and other structural and decorative needs at Montgomery Farm. With North Texas continually facing drought situations, water has become a precious resource and the developers of Montgomery Farm have created 14 acres of water storage ponds to collect runoff and for use, as needed, in irrigation.
The easternmost entry of Montgomery Farm features an 80-acre mixed-use urban retail center that includes upscale shopping and dining as well as an variety of residential options. Also within the development is the Angel Field Center, an office complex designed for Platinum LEED certification, and featuring office space as well as a luxury spa.
At the heart of the planning process was the idea that Montgomery Farm would be attractive to a mix of age groups, from the young professional to the growing family to the empty nester. As a result, Montgomery Farm features a range of housing styles including apartments, condominiums, patio homes and single family residences. It is the developer’s hope that once a person establishes their home at Montgomery Farm they are able to remain at Montgomery Farm for life, even as their housing needs change.
The centerpiece of the development is Bethany Drive, which runs directly through the middle of the development. Bethany Road was specifically designed to slow traffic and call attention to the natural surroundings of Montgomery Farm. The approach was to create land-art forms and place the roadway within the landscape rather than to make the pavement the dominant visual feature. The road’s features include:
• roundabouts rather than stop lights designed to keep traffic flowing and reduce pollution,
• traffic that is separated by extra-wide medians,
• landscaping that includes more than 600 native trees, wildflowers and grasses to save on water and mowing costs, and
• earthen berms on either side of the road that soften the overall appearance and reduce noise pollution for neighboring landowners.
The original community development plan was created to meet Allen’s expectations for the property. Since the beginning of the planning process, Montgomery Farm has worked closely with the city as well as neighbors of surrounding developments to ensure that all aspects of the development fit within the city’s ordinances and, where requested, any variances are necessary to the enhancement of the development and not simply cosmetic changes.
Montgomery Farm proves that sustainable development can be highly-successful development. By the time the first homes went on the market, Montgomery Farm was exceeding expectations. Because of demand, builders were able to raise prices for their homes within the first month of sales despite the slowing of the housing market nationwide.
During an Arbor Day dedication ceremony held on the property, Bill Seaman, executive director of Dallas Historic Tree Coalition, called Montgomery Farm a “creative prototype that will show the development community that land can be developed in a way that works with the existing environment.” “People are no longer satisfied with sterile, cookie-cutter developments,” said Amy Monier, whose family has owned the land for decades and who is leading the development process with her brother, Philip. “They want a community. They want a place where they can live and work and shop. They want a place where they are just as comfortable raising their kids as they will be in retirement. And increasingly, they want it to be a part of the natural environment, not something that is manufactured.”
To learn more about the CLIDE Awards Program and the Ten Principles of Development Excellence, visit http://www.developmentexcellence.com.