hendrix village – walking tour of a master planned traditional neighborhood development
Several years ago, Hendrix College began a bold master planning process to prepare for enrollment expansion and bolster its character as a respected liberal arts college with a growing national reputation. In addition, the college desired to overcome the barrier created by suburban sprawl development patterns separating it from a rapidly rejuvenating downtown. In order to increase community interaction and realize its goals of community service and sustainable development, the college master planned approximately 97-acres of vacant property bordering its campus.
Construction on the project, which is Phase I of this master plan, began in 2008. The project is an approximately 54-acre mixed-use, walkable, college village, that combines employment, housing, educational facilities, and recreation. The success of the college’s vision depended on developing a flexible code to allow a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development. A Traditional Neighborhood Development Overlay (the code) was developed to supersede the City’s zoning and subdivision ordinances. The code has enabled the implementation of responsible, sustainable growth while allowing greater diversity and connectivity. Its flexibility allowed the college to make plan modifications to address unexpected development issues.
The project is characterized by five closely integrated features: community-oriented transportation network, the Market Square, the residential neighborhood, the corporate campus, and the ecological restoration area.
1. The college coordinated with the State Department of Transportation to transform a traffic choked arterial road network with the state’s first roundabouts to serve as intersection alternatives and traffic calming devices, while providing gateways into the project and campus. Pedestrian access was provided in the forms of a tunnel and a pedestrian bridge to fully integrate the project with the surrounding community and to insure pedestrian safety.
2. The Market Square includes vertically mixed-use buildings of student apartments and condominiums over ground floor restaurants and shops fronting a village green. The Square is the center of the residential neighborhood through its retail businesses and restaurants, farmers’ market, and community events. It serves as an ideal setting for student and professor interaction, a gathering place for employees from the corporate campus and the college, and attracts residents from the City.
3. The Residential Neighborhood contains a variety of living options, including single-family houses, townhomes, cottages, condominiums, apartments, and live/work units. All of the residences face pedestrian-oriented streets with attractive streetscapes, while alleys provide vehicular access to garages and parking. The residential blocks are compact and diverse, yet intimate and accessible. The project also includes the President’s House and other opportunities for faculty housing, thus broadening the open interaction between the community, faculty and staff, and the students who live on the Market Square. A Charter School is proposed in a future phase of the master plan to serve families in the project and the nearby community.
4. Introducing a 100,000 square foot Corporate Campus with 400 employees of a regional company into the project provided an economic boost to the community and expanded the social dynamic of the neighborhood. The 13-acre corporate campus forms the northern boundary of the property and serves as an effective transition from the project to more auto-oriented commercial and residential uses. In addition, the Corporate Campus’s LEED Gold building reflects the college’s mission of sustainable development.
5. Finally, the college viewed the neglected stream channels running through an 18-acre area of the project as an opportunity to showcase environmental innovation while promoting their dedication to community and expanding educational opportunities. The college’s environmental studies and biology faculty partnered with environmental engineers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore and reconstruct lost or degraded wetlands and stream corridors to serve many functions: storm-water management; a natural habitat for wildlife; outdoor classroom opportunities for college students; and recreational nature trails for neighborhood and community residents.