COVENTRY DEVELOPMENT CORP.'S vision for the Ridge Gate community in Denver as a showcase for the latest in hip New Urbanism includes a forward-thinking technology component.

The developer's plan is to build a “Broadband City” backed by a sizable investment from Qwest Communications in which all RidgeGate homes will feature a fiber-to-the-home backbone that can support home entertainment options that run more effectively over broadband, such as HDTV and multiroom audio/video, as well as integrated security and energy management.

But what makes RidgeGate so potentially groundbreaking is that not only homes but offices, road systems, the local hospital, police and fire stations, schools, and shops will have access to the same fiber-optic network. Eventually, residents could quickly retrieve local traffic information and get medical information from the hospital.

“We have a unique opportunity here to build a modern citywide infrastructure from scratch,” says Tom Reiman, president of The Broadband Group, the Sacramento, Calif., consultancy that developed Ridge-Gate's technology plan.

Reiman says one important aspect of the technology is that the service from Qwest is a commercial-grade Ethernet connection: No cable or DSL modem is necessary, so the network will run much more like a stable office network.

Keith Simon, vice president and development director for RidgeGate, says universal broadband is central to the way RidgeGate's management intends to do business. “The community association will communicate through the intranet, so everyone has to have a connection,” says Simon, who adds that structured wiring and 1.5-megabits-per-second Internet access will be standard in all RidgeGate homes.

The build-out for RidgeGate will take place over more than 40 years on 3,500 acres in Lone Tree, Colo., southeast of Denver. When it's complete, the community will consist of approximately 12,000 homes and 23 million square feet of office space. Coventry's vision is for RidgeGate to feature all the amenities of a city, including a walkable downtown area with a mix of shopping, entertainment, and restaurants, as well as office, civic, and cultural centers.

Sky Ridge Medical Center, a full-service hospital and medical complex, opened in 2003. A 54,000-square-foot recreation center opened last year. The community is also committed to environmental protection: Roughly 1,000 acres of parks and trails will be preserved as open space.

Toll Brothers and Century Communities are the two lead home builders on the project. In the first phase are Bluffmont Greene and Renaissance, 263 homes in four home types that will be built over the next two years. Prices start at $270,000 and top out in the $600,000 range. The first residents moved in this spring.

Travis Reid, Bluffmont Greene project manager for Toll Brothers, says he's very excited about the fiber network. However, Reid thinks most home buyers are not fully aware of the technology's real potential.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Denver, CO.