Hampstead Celebrates Ten Years
Ten years after Hampstead opened its doors, the community looks different from the early days - and exactly what its town planners and founders envisioned: a mixed-use community of neighbors, friends, homes, businesses and gathering places that's unlike anywhere else in Montgomery.
Walkable, creative urban places are now the norm rather than the exception in the US, and they're booming. None more so than Hampstead with its growing Town Center and home sales. RSVP Magazine sat down with Anna Lowder & Harvi Sahota, Directors of Hampstead, to talk shop on founding the community, what ten years have taught, and what's next...
§ Tell our readers the background of Hampstead - give a glimpse of the early days.
We started out with a simple question: "Why?” Why had Suburbia become the norm in America, and why was it the only option for people looking for a new construction home in this region? We knew there are better ways of planning and building that could improve people's daily lives. So we looked to older cities, new towns, revitalized areas that had been brought to life. We sought the best examples of urbanism in the United States, always asking “why does this work?" We studied the examples of planning, learning specifically how design can drive the culture, society and economy of a place. We learned from the wisdom of New Urbanists and seasoned developers, learning that there’s always a design solution to any problem.
We built a design team led by the world’s most experienced town planners, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ). As planners of Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach and over 300 communities and cities worldwide, DPZ’s experience has been invaluable to us. Led by Andrés Duany, we created an intricate, balanced community plan built on the fundamental urban design principles of mixed-use, walkable, cohesive neighborhoods that stand the test of time.
§ How did Hampstead get off the ground?
That “Why?" evolved into “How?” and has taken over a decade of hard work. We changed Montgomery’s zoning laws by getting the SmartCode adopted, then created Montgomery's first mixed-use town center. We educated homebuyers and visitors how traditional planning and design fosters an unrivaled quality of life. And we battled the Great Recession.
The majority of Americans now see the value of walkable, mixed-use communities. Whether the shift locally has been led by millennials or baby-boomers or just new residents relocating from other cities, Montgomery has caught up to the trend and Hampstead has been at the forefront of this shift.
Today we've developed over 30% of Hampstead’s community plan and are nearing our fifth phase of growth. Our focus is meeting the demand for our new homes, while creating community-building events and annual traditions.The result, if implemented correctly, is a community built on living, working, preserving, and growing over time into a multi-generational, mixed-use community where people of different lifestyles and interests come together. We’re committed to development with authenticity and principled design.
§ What makes Hampstead unique compared other community-driven developments?
There is no doubt there are a number of incredible New Urbanist and pedestrian-oriented communities underway in the US right now. From small in-fill sites to large scale mixed-use plans, this country - and the Southeast in particular - has some new incredible communities. Many - like Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach and Serenbe - are well known to Montgomerians.
We like how approachable Hampstead is. While we certainly enjoy and learn from other locations, we admittedly are not in a resort location. There’s no ocean or mountain views here. Montgomery is essentially an average US home buying market, which means we have to design and sell within average American home buying budgets. To create and implement a community based on cohesive design and quality materials within a budget can be difficult. Ultimately the authenticity and simplicity in architecture and the built environment is created with value always in mind. To that end, Hampstead can be a model for great place-making anywhere.
§ What does a typical work day look like for you two? There's a wide variety to what we do at Hampstead, so our tasks vary each day and we have to be able to pivot on a dime. Residential plan design, house construction, phase site planning and construction, homebuyer meetings, branding and marketing, zoning updates, architectural review, events: you name it. § What have been your favorite moments at Hampstead over the past 10 years?
Harvi: Walking the Hampstead sidewalks with Andrés Duany and hearing his appreciation for what we’ve built. It makes it all worth it.
Anna: Listening to people share their stories of how Hampstead has impacted their lives by living here, meeting long-term friends here, watching their children grow here, or just feeling a part of something larger than themselves.
An Environment Where You Can Live, Grow & Learn
The Lido Pool: Montgomery’s largest community pool is located alongside Hampstead Lake, with dramatic waters views, world-class swimming, classic architecture and an events venue.
Hampstead Lake: Kayaking, fishing, or feeding the ducks right outside your front door. It’s all here at the 23 acre lake in the center of Hampstead.
Hampstead Farm: Focused on education and agricultural urbanism, this natural community farm and its iconic red barn bring together working produce and orchard farm beds with a residents’ community garden.
Montessori School at Hampstead: Education is a key component of the Hampstead mission, and the Montessori School at Hampstead helps bring this mission to life for children everyday. The school utilizes many civic spaces within the community and works in conjunction with our playground, Hampstead Library, the farm, and our Hampstead Tennis instructor.
Soccer at Hampstead: Exercise and activity is important to healthy development, so Hamsptead partners with Barber Elite Soccer in year-round soccer development and training for boys and girls from age 3 and older.
Town Square Life
City Grill: City Grill is one of Montgomery’s most beloved fine dining restaurants. Celebrating its 20th anniversary year, City Grill has crafted a cult following by offering consistent and delicious seafood, steaks, and seasonal cuisine in a beautiful space.
The Tipping Point: Voted the top spot for craft beer in Montgomery, The Tipping Point is famous for its laid back menu featuring hot dogs, pressed sandwiches, and killer drinks. A favorite night out for families, the Kids’ Hill and patio with Beer Garden are not to be missed.
Taste: Featuring Montgomery’s best tapas and wine program, Taste offers a fun night out for those seeking something new. Don’t miss the flatbreads and desserts, and don’t forget to check out the amazing wine available for retail purchase.
Homes For All Ages & Stages
Whatever it is that you value in a home - more free time, energy efficiency, room to grow - it can be found at Hampstead. Take, for instance, the idea of “value.” Imagine being able to create a home and getting access to hundreds of acres of green space, lake, natural preserves, parks, town squares, pools and farm. Or how about having real choice? Hampstead offers homes in all sizes, prices, and layouts. With options for every stage of life, our residents reflect a rounded diversity of ages. This means that every generation of a family can live in the same neighborhood. Here people enjoy each phase of their life within the same community rather than having to leave neighbors and friends because of income changes, a desire to downsize, or the need for more space.
From private courtyard homes to growing family homes, first homes and townhouses to estate homes, there’s a home for you at Hampstead. Want to know more? Visit hampsteadliving.com, call 334.270.6730, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and more.
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