Joseph Alfandre & the Kentlands Vision
quickly sold -- for $17 million -- a portion of the site adjacent to the future Great Seneca highway (then under construction) to midwestern shopping center magnate Mel Simon for development a modern (and rather conventional) regional mall.
became increasingly captivated with the beauty and order of the rather formal old Kentlands Farm complex and his
sense of what could be accomplished began to evolve.
thought, the farm complex buildings could become the heart of a neighborhood more reminiscent of old-time country villages.
met with land planners Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, then best known for their recently completed project at Seaside on the Florida panhandle, a neotraditional resort village.
After trips with Duany to a number of U.S. and European traditional towns, Alfandre
became convinced that a neotraditional town could work at Kentlands
In June 1988, Alfandre, City officials, scores of planners and other professionals, the public, and Duany and his wife and partner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (DPZ), held a weeklong planning 'charrette' at the old Kentlands Barn.
City approvals were quick to follow and Alfandre formalized the community in December 1988 by creating the Kentlands Citizens Assembly.
At that time, he
appointed five developer members as its officers and trustees.
maintained a presence in a converted farm building as the Kentlands
'Community Architect' to oversee development.
The following May, to generate interest in the project, Alfandre
transformed the area near the Kentlands
Mansion by pitching a giant tent on Kent's former Hidden Garden (now the Kentlands Green in the Old Farm District) for the Kentlands Festival of the Arts. (In September 1991, the arts and charitable character of the community was reflected once again when a bevy of artists and interior decorators transformed the old mansion into the Kentlands Designer Showcase
as a fundraising exercise to benefit the National Symphony Orchestra.) An Old Farm Charrette in mid 1989 proposed using the mansion, barn, and other buildings to create an arts campus for Gaithersburg
in Kentlands, a vision that is slowly being realized.
's homebuilding subsidiary began building its Old Farm houses and infrastructure construction continued, but by the end of the summer, it was apparent that Alfandre was in deep trouble.
The Alfandre Era Ends
In October 1991, after extended negotiations, Joseph Alfandre & Co.
and Great Seneca Limited Partnership
gave the project back to the bank, executing a deed in lieu of foreclosure to Chevy Chase's newly created wholly owned subsidiary Great Seneca Development Corporation, Inc.
Alfandre stayed on as a consultant for more than a year, but effective control of the project shifted to GSDC, its president Guy E. 'Jeff' Campbell, and a team of developers brought in to complete the community.
According to Alfandre
, the enclosed mall had been envisioned as being the economic 'engine' that would drive Kentlands development.
Kentlands Founder Joseph Alfandre had envisioned establishment of a new Kentlands Foundation.
It was to be an arts, cultural, educational, and charitable organization that would enrich life in Kentlands and allow its citizens to reach their 'full potential.'
included provisions the Kentlands Founding Documents requiring purchasers to make a fixed contribution to a Titleholders Initial Contribution (TIC) Fund, which was dedicated to the social and cultural betterment of the community.