Hometown - Robinson, Texas
For more than a decade, Owner/Developer Jeff Bowden had explored the idea of transforming 650 acres of farmland in Robinson, Texas into a mixed-use development that was economically viable and environmentally responsible. The tract of land lies equidistant between Austin and Dallas along the most robust highway in the world – IH-35. How could this agrarian acreage be complimented by the hands of man to embrace the traditional values of the rural community of Robinson with a sustainable development to last the ages?
The Developer and Walker Partners concurred that such a rare and unique property deserved unequalled planning and vision. The journey began with a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland to take part in a design competition with Duany Plater-Zyberk and Co. (DPZ), a world-renowned new urbanism planning firm, contributing to the planning effort for the next expansion of Edinburgh (note: the last expansion of this City took place in the mid-19th century!).
We returned home with a vision to meld the livability of the new urbanism lifestyle with the pragmatism of Texans’ rugged individualism, and to create a “heart” of Robinson where both new and old residents would call home. A week long design charrette followed which included every stakeholder that could be identified – City Staff, City Council, the School Board, the Chamber of Commerce, business leaders, townspeople, builders, other developers, and TxDOT.
By the end of the week, the charrette was completed by the unveiling of a Master Plan to all the stakeholders. The master-planned community was named “Hometown,” signifying the place that everyone wants to be from. The Master Plan bonded this new community to the existing community, re-aligning the Thoroughfare Plan with the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) such that the primary arterial thoroughfare runs through Hometown and through the Central Business District. All new public facilities such as City Hall, the Public Library, new schools, and sports fields are planned to be located at Hometown, along with a corporate campus, medical facilities, and environmentally friendly light industrial services. Future residents can choose from a variety of housing options to best suit them, ranging from multi-family units to retirement housing. Parks, open space, and pedestrian-friendly commercial/retail development are highlights of the community accessible to all. While the development Plan supports urban vehicular traffic, the Plan emphasizes pedestrian transportation. For example, a park is within walking distance of every home; a hike and bike trail system envelopes the community with connectivity to other communities; retail shops and restaurants are within walking distance of homes, as are work places. The community is complete within itself, and complimentary to the City of Robinson.
The planning, platting, and entitlement successes of Hometown have had a tremendous influence on the planning and development of thousands of acres in the nearby vicinity. Open space, parkland, pedestrian connectivity, and an acute sense of environmentally and economically sustainable development has become commonplace. The economic viability of this Plan has been memorialized by the recent purchase of the land by the Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corporation, a not-for-profit public-private entity whose mission is to improve the quality of life in McLennan County through long-term, sustainable growth.