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Already better than The Woodlands? Springwoods Village to compete with eco trails

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An artist’s rendering looking south at the Holzwarth Road bridge across Spring Creek that connects the Springwoods Village community with The Woodlands in Montgomery County. The Springwoods Village Nature Preserve is to be located to the right. Courtesy of Coventry Development Corp.
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The plan features a nature center building, out of the floodplain, and a series of hard and soft trails through the 150 acres of forest habitat, wetlands and a pond. Courtesy of Coventry Development Corp.
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The planned community structure at Springwoods Village Courtesy of Coventry Development Corp.
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Located 30 miles north of Houston, Springwoods Village is the last remaining major undeveloped piece of land along Interstate 45 and comprises about 1,800 acres. Courtesy of Coventry Development Corp.

Life on the cul-de-sac has never been so eco-friendly: Just when you thought that The Woodlands represented the last frontier in far-flung New Urbanism, Coventry Development Corp. has in the works an 1,800-acre master-planned development south of The Woodlands, to be known as Springwoods Village.

The name of the game is "sustainability" for the suburb, which will straddle I-45 and a proposed future extension of the Grand Parkway — a ring road that has come under criticism for destroying wildlife habitat.

Springwoods Village's developers anticipate a walkable community with "smart, sustainable elements." We can expect a hip mix of luxury rentals, "urban-style" compact housing and single-family dwellings with yards.

A highlight green feature of the $10 billion community is a peripheral mile-long natural open space that is slated to become part of a regional greenway system, allowing for 33 miles of trails, recreation and natural ecosystems for the Springwoods community. Coventry  — the development company behind Springwoods — elaborates on its website:

"The mixed-use community will unfold carefully and methodically to balance nature, urbanism and diversity. The existing forest and Spring Creek ecosystems will be protected and preserved utilizing the best practices in sustainable design and infrastructure. Springwoods Village will be user friendly, earth friendly, connected and current."

One thoughtful aspect of the design is the attention to wind aeration. The community is positioned to take advantage of prevailing winds from the southeast, which Coventry promises are consistent in frequency, duration and speed. The developers have also identified areas of "wind catchment" or wind chimneys — architectural devices that enable the wind from above to be brought down to the ground, providing further comfort for pedestrians in key areas of the community.

The community's construction is bound to devastate a portion of local wildlife habitat, but Coventry promises to "reconstruct savannah wetland ponds and create open green spaces," including a water feature that "looks like it was etched by water over the millennia."

Poetic sounding, no? Surely the up to 5,000 homes, 8.5 million square feet of commercial development and more than one million square feet of retail space will have little impact upon the native state of Springwoods Village.

There's speculation that Springwoods will be a home-base for employees of a future consolidated Exxon Mobil campus. Coventry begins two years of infrastructure work during the second quarter of 2011, at which point it will sell land tracts to outside developers who will construct office buildings, hotels, retail centers and residences.

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