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King Farm Website
King Farm Community Association
Rockville Pike (Route 355)
One of Washingtonian Magazine's "Best Places to Live" 2002
Recently King Farm Park was dedicated, and to commemorate the occasion there was a big celebration with Rockville mayor Larry Giammo. At the dedication, one King Farm resident was quoted as saying, "Some places who call themselves communities are really just people who happen to live next to each other . . ." She continues to say that King Farm is a real community. Is this what New Urbanism is supposed to be? Not just a place that looks like a century-old town but one where residents reserve the right to insult other non-NU developments? She failed to mention that had it not been for the developer who bought the land, the builders who put up houses, and the very gracious city that allowed it all to happen, there wouldn't have been a King Farm. Just like any other community, King Farm is a place where people happen to live next to each other. But in some communities, those people who live next to each other get to know each other, regardless of how it was designed, where it is, or how much people paid to get in.
Many years ago, there was an open field along Route 355 in Rockville, Maryland. With 430 acres it was a sizable piece of land for the time. A farmer came upon this land and knew that he could do something great with it. So he planted his seeds of a small town and lovingly cared for it with New Urban ideals and from it grew something very nice: A housing development.
With its traditional homes and narrow streets, King Farm could easily pass for a much older neighborhood. In fact, that is how it was designed. King Farm is a "New Urban" community, which is meant to solve the problems of suburban sprawl and bring us back to a time when people drove less and walked more, when kids could go places by themselves, and where the rich and poor lived side by side. Such places include Kentlands, only a few miles away, and Seaside, Florida, considered to be the very first New Urban communities.
My visit to King Farm begins at one of the community's many entrances (most subdivisions only have one or two). To my right were some tiny colonial-style homes on even tinier lots, where house meets street in a rather intimate fashion. And to my left was some construction. They sure didn't build 'em this fast in the old days. I continue to one of the centerpieces of the community, three streets which form three concentric circles, all of which lined with houses pushed very close together which terminates at "King Farm Park," a 12-acre field with some young trees, some play equipment and the brownest grass I've seen in a long time.
Our Toyota 4Runner seems pretty big on these rather small streets (compared to those in our own neighborhood). For a community that is meant to encourage walking, I saw only four people and a dog actually on the streets. At least the homes are nice. There are Farmhouses, Colonials, and some Victorians, all of which having a large front porch. Many of them are detached, but others only look that way from the street. Behind them are some massive-looking garages which take up most of the rear yard. This brought me to ask, "Where do the residents have barbecues? There doesn't seem to be any room to do anything here."
New Urban communities are (supposed) to have a mix of housing styles - in other words, townhomes, apartments and single family homes are on the same street. As for King Farm, the only townhomes and apartments I saw were separated from the other homes. And just like a normal suburban development, they turned their backs to the road and instead fronted to massive parking lots. As we left the development, we passed a block of apartment buildings. The only entrances these buildings have which face the street have a sign saying "Do Not Enter - Entrance Around Back." Again, another New Urban anomaly.
King Farm has a very nice housing stock, but the way those homes are sited must be very intimate for their residents. Rents for the two apartment complexes start from the $1,300's for a one-bedroom. Condominiums start from the mid $200's, Townhomes from the mid $300's, and Single Family Homes from the $400's. If you're looking for a low-maintenance home with a sense of community on the side, this just might be your cup of tea. There is a Metro station right next to the development along with Irvington Centre, an office park. The community abuts the offices for both Pepco and Celera Genomics, which is part of the Human Genome Project. As you can see, people are paying a high premium to live next door to our genetic "future."
Written by Daniel Reed
September 16, 2002
All pictures taken without permission. E-Mail me at DanielBig12@aol.com. Last Updated September 1, 2003