If this is the suburbs, then where are the cul-de-sacs? The patios? Super-wide streets with no trees alongside?
You won't see them in the plans for the Brandtjen Farm development. The 2,100-unit development even endangers the most common icon of suburbia, the garage door--most will be hidden in alleys.
Call it the anti-suburb. In many ways, the project will be the opposite of the modern suburb, home to three-quarters of the metro area and most of America.
The preliminary plan is the work of Putman Planning & Design, a Hudson, Wis.-based architectural design company. Inspired by older neighborhoods, Putman planned the Brandtjen project with front porches, sidewalks, alleys and "pocket parks" instead of cul-de-sacs.
"This isn't new. It's just so old we forgot how to do it," owner Marc Putman said. But it will be new to the home-buying public, which is accustomed to suburbs that look the same in the Twin Cities as they do in Des Moines or Atlanta or Denver.
And it may not work.
Some city officials are wary of certain elements of the plan they've never encountered. In the months ahead, the plan must be approved by the Lakeville Planning Commission and City Council, and could well be changed. Dozens of local, state and federal agencies must sign off on it before ground is broken sometime next summer.
Or developers could decide the changes are too dramatic, that typical home-buyers won't appreciate them--or pay for them.
Like many other new developments, the project calls for houses and townhouses starting in the mid-$200,000 range. Retail stores and offices are planned for the northwest corner of the project.
But the similarity ends there, according to Rob Wachholz, co-owner of Tradition Development, which built Club West in Blaine and Cobblestone Lake in Apple Valley.
Along the streets, garage doors and driveways will no longer dominate the fronts of houses. Garages will be relegated to alleys--as they are in older neighborhoods of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Houses will have front porches. They will be set closer to the street, to encourage conversation with passers-by. Streets will have trees near the curbs, to eventually create a canopy effect.
Planners hope to include roundabouts--circular roadways that replace intersections. These are common in Europe, but scarce in American suburbs.
Three new man-made lakes will join two natural lakes, creating a waterway that might open a new passage to the Mississippi River.
And the project calls for a unique historic component. Tradition Development plans to preserve the original Brandtjen dairy barn, horse barn, farmhouse, and possibly another barn, all sitting on 12 acres.
If the buildings are structurally sound--that has yet to be determined--they will be adapted for modern uses. The large dairy barn will be re-built for a community center. The redwood horse barn may be used for shops or offices.
It's all expensive, and the unique features make it risky. But Tip Enebak, owner of Enebak Construction, which is supporting the project financially, wants to do something memorable.
"We don't want to be developers that develop everything in the world," Enebak said.
"At the end of the day, our motto is that if we can't do something that we are not proud of 10 years from now, we don't do it."
Groundbreaking is expected in the summer of 2005.