Unlike Kentlands, which was built twenty years ago on a farm at the suburban fringe, the Courts of Woodside occupies an infill lot in an area dating to the turn of the 20th century that's now increasingly urban. It presents an not-so-unusual challenge to the architects (whom I worked for briefly one summer many years ago): how can you build something without disrupting the historic character of the neighborhood?
The answer, it turned out, was literally to move the past. Three old, decaying houses on site were fully restored and shifted elsewhere, making room for twenty new townhouses. Here's one of those three houses in 2007 . . .
Of course, the developers could have built this entire project with single-family homes. But it'd be a waste of a site blocks from Downtown Silver Spring and on top of the Red Line and several Metrobus routes that stop at the corner of Georgia and Noyes - a place where new housing wouldn't automatically mean more car trips because residents would have alternative ways to get around. It would also prevent them from providing small pocket parks within the development, offering residents and visitors alike places to sit and enjoy the scenery.
There aren't many places where you can lie in a hammock on a porch and see a city skyline. Building up our urban centers is important, but so is taking advantage of underutilized land in our residential neighborhoods as well. After all, not everyone wants to live downtown. And with projects like the Courts of Woodside, we can provide more choices for people who'd like a little city in their suburb - or vice versa.
Check out this slideshow of the Courts of Woodside.