New Town Saint Charles

Location: Saint Charles, Missouri, USA
Project Categories: Urbanism, Architecture, Codes
Year Started: 2002
Status: construction
Size: 726 acres

Called ‘the best-selling community in St. Louis’ by Big Builder magazine, this 726-acre site is situated between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, some 25 miles northwest of downtown St. Louis and 3.5 miles north of historic downtown St. Charles. This flat, formerly agricultural land served as a blank slate upon which DPZ designed six compact and walkable mixed-use neighborhoods surrounding a series of man-made lakes and canals.

Originally the site’s waterways were created to meet the requirement for containing storm runoff, but quickly became the project’s signature feature and are celebrated in the plan in a number of ways: The neighborhoods are organized by a system of canals and lakes, while the streets are arranged to lead residents directly to the water; and numerous public spaces that accent the waterfront from different points around the town. The waterways also provided an opportunity to model New Town after Europe’s most charming waterfront cities. These examples inspired a mix of attached and detached homes offering residents a variety of relationships to the water. Some homes are placed directly upon the water, as is typical in Venice, while other neighborhoods are modeled after Amsterdam, with streets lining the water and houses set back from the water’s edge.

Water besets a dense town center, which connects to the four surrounding neighborhoods with a variety of greens, squares, and plazas. Lining the main town square are mixed-use buildings, including apartments, restaurants, shops, and offices. A small harbor at the eastern edge of the town center places the main plaza directly upon the water in a striking fashion and offers wide views of the lakes. The town center is intended to serve neighboring communities and visitors in addition to the residents of New Town St. Charles. As it develops, it will become a vibrant focal point for the community.

The surrounding neighborhoods are generally less dense than the town center and contain a smaller range of housing types. Each section of the plan contains its own neighborhood center with smaller-scale retail and civic uses, as well as a central open space for public gathering and recreation.

Several institutions are participating in the development of the town. To date a community pool, meeting hall and two places of worship have been completed, as well as an amphitheater and numerous community open spaces. Important locations have been reserved for other civic uses including a school, library, and firehouse. A fully functioning organic farm also operates upon the site, providing fresh, seasonal produce to the community and a street car line is planned to connect New Town with Downtown Saint Charles. The presence of these community spaces and transportation, in addition to the mix of residential, commercial and civic uses, ensure that New Town St. Charles will become a vibrant, viable community.

Aerial photography of New Town Saint Charles View from the entry to New Town Saint Charles 0248-03 Recreational retention basins, copyright by Lawrence Duffy Master plan of New Town Saint Charles Town Hall Plaza and marketplace

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