Seeking inspiration

Possibly in the market for some new digs, my wife and I stopped by Inspirada this weekend. I’d heard how it was a hallmark of the “new urbanism,” so true to my training as an urban historian I thought it might be fun to stop by and see the new urbanism in practice.

First of all, it’s far south. Really far south. When I saw the sign on I-15 that said the exit for St. Rose Parkway was 8 miles ahead, it sunk in: this is practically in Barstow.

Of course, that’s all relative. If someone in LA could find a place to live ten miles from their job, they’d be ecstatic. Since I face two traffic lights en route to work each morning now, I’m probably a little spoiled. But living that far south could take some getting used to.

It’s another 2 miles or so to Inspirada once you exit the I-15–it’s south of the Henderson Executive Airport, a facility that I wouldn’t even know about if it weren’t for that mention of it at the McCarran D gates.

We started off by looking at the Toll Brothers homes, which we soon found out were laughably out of our price range. Still, I’ve got to give the Brothers Toll some credit: they know how to stage a house. Of course the models are loaded with all sorts of options and upgrades that aren’t available even if you have the money because they are custom-designed, but it’s impossible to walk through one of those models and not really feel like you’d want to live there. Or at least you’d like to have a friend who lived there, so you could come over for a gourmet meal and night of conversation once a week.

Seriously, the level of finish was really, really high. Granted that these were fully loaded, you could see that even the “basic” homes would be considerably more upscale than usual.

The KB Homes…homes were closer to our price range, and they also looked eminently livable. The level of finish wasn’t as high as the Toll models, but these were still really nice places to live.

Apparently, one of the things KB saved money on was fancy names for the different models. Each type of home, named after a famous painter, was distinctive, but within these types, there were several options. Instead of coming up with further names for these subclasses–famous paintings, for example, KB just named it after the square footage. So, for example, you might have the Van Gogh 1980 or the Matisse 2337.

As we’re looking through, I wondered…is there a Picasso (or anyone else) 2112? That, I told my wife, would be really, really cool. When she asked why, I gave a really good effort at humming “Temples of Syrinx” (if you don’t know what that sounds like, click here, and, about 1/5 of the way through, you’ll hear it; those midis are strangely good listening). That didn’t really explain much. And, you’ll be pleased to note that though I couldn’t find a 2112, I did find a 2114. I’m guessing that if this development was in Toronto, they’d have fudged those two square feet.

Not having looked at too many new homes, I’m not sure how typical or not Inspirada is, but we were both really impressed. The brochure was heavy on verbiage about modern urban living, but I didn’t find too many specifics (not too much is built yet), so I’m not sure whether this will really be a vibrant, walkable urban cluster or just another piece of suburban sprawl. I would really like to believe the former, but I can see it going either way. Even if I don’t move there, I’m interested in seeing how Inspirada shapes up.

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