A master-planned community founded 14 years ago in Plymouth, Mass., is known as a living laboratory of thoughtful community planning and design. College students and community planning experts visit from across the world to learn more about this well-established new town center.
Classes from MIT, Harvard, and Tufts as well as employees of international construction firm SKANSKA tour The Pinehills to study low-impact development and smart planning. It is also a model for how master planned communities contribute to the economy. The Pinehills, which was purchased for $10 million in 1998 and today boasts $1 billion in assessed value, is Plymouth’s largest taxpayer. It is home to more than 1,800 families and 300,000 square feet of mixed use commercial including a grocery store, gas station and 4 restaurants..
Homes are grouped together in small neighborhoods that conserve open space, trees, and wildlife habitat while enhancing residents’ views and personal privacy, says managing partner Tony Green. They are carefully sited to harmonize with their woodland, pond, and golf course settings. Roads follow--rather than alter--the natural contours of the valleys and hills, a practice that also calms traffic. Community amenities include pools, tennis courts, and miles of walking trails, and two championship golf courses.
Home buyers can choose from 10 different builders who offer a variety of housing styles include cottages and townhomes, luxury apartments and condominiums, active adult dwellings, and custom homes. Prices range from the mid $300s to the millions. Lots and home styles are designed in concert to provide distinctively different choices and prices.
“Placemaking means imagining how the built environment weaves itself into the natural environment,” says Green. “The place we’ve created cultivates lifestyle and social connections.”
The heart of the community is a traditional New England Village Green, big enough to host concerts and community events. The Green provides a visual and physical center for Mirbeau Inn & Spa, the post office, restaurants, and other shops and services.
“Putting desirable shops and restaurants close to home encourages residents to put on their walking shoes instead of getting in their car,” Green says. The fresh food grocer is certified by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as the first “Healthy Market” south of Boston. Nutritionists from the local BI/D Hospital work directly with the store to provide nutritional chef-prepared entrees and share recipes. The Rye Tavern’s chef harvests food from local gardens to create seasonal menus in the renovated Tavern dating from 1792.
Green points out that residents have created over 40 groups and clubs ranging from Civil War History, Trail Riding, Men’s Club, Hiking, Gardening, and a Kids Club. “We intended to foster interaction and that’s what has happened,” he says. “We provided the place and residents have taken care of the rest.”