Disagreement exists over the exact definition of “New Urbanism”. Some say it’s a catchphrase coined by urban planners and hijacked by developers to attach to their projects. In Dallas, some believe it’s the wave of the future, and the doubters need to start believing.
It just so happens that Oak Cliff is home to the president of the North Texas Congress for New Urbanism — Monte Anderson of Options Real Estate, who is known to most neighbors as the owner of the Belmont Hotel.
The North Texas Congress’ website defines its mission as “curbing sprawl and re-establishing compact, walkable and sustainable neighborhoods and cities.” Anderson is a developer, and says that New Urbanism has helped him turn over a new leaf.
“I’ve had to take a look back at some of the projects I’ve done — building suburban style shopping centers that are only one use; building neighborhoods that have only one price range of housing in it; building big, wide streets — and say, ‘I don’t like this. I’m not going to do it anymore — not even for money.”
Developments with a New Urbanism philosophy create places where people can live, work and play in the same community, without having to waste time on long commutes. These types of projects center on alternative transportation, so that pedestrians, cyclists and streetcars are just as welcome as cars.
“I’m a developer,” Anderson says, “but I don’t want to get through at the end of my life and my granddaughters come to me and say, ‘Was it all about money and pouring concrete over everything? Why did you do this? Why did you use up all our air and all our water?’”
In the view of Anderson and others who share his mindset, New Urbanism prevents this kind of development, and instead fosters independent businesses.
“We’re going back to the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, and local products,” he says.
To learn more visit cnuntx.org.