Over the course of nearly 100 years‚ the Banning Lewis Ranch became a local landmark‚ home to a thriving cattle- and horse-raising operation. In the next few years‚ it promises to be a landmark for the future and home one day to 175‚000 people. Located east of Colorado Springs‚ Banning Lewis is slated to be a major economic force in the city’s future – in reality a new city in itself. But‚ developers say‚ though it will comprise more than 21‚000 acres and thousands of homes‚ businesses and retail centers when it is finished‚ residents will feel anything but lost on the prairie. Instead‚ they’ll find small-town ambiance and traditional neighborhoods where residents wave hello from their front porches‚ kids play ball in the park‚ and Mom and Dad walk to work. “We wanted to create something new and different‚ something that had never been done before in Colorado Springs‚” says John Cassiani‚ vice president of project operations for Banning Lewis Ranch Management‚ which is developing the project. “Our whole theme is connectivity. You’ll be able to walk from your home to work or your neighborhood rec center or school. We want a community that really has a community feel‚ an open-neighborhood feel that we’re losing in this country.” BLRM puts heavy emphasis on “neighborhood crafting.” Each of several distinct “villages” will feature a network of pasillos‚ or internal greenways‚ for walking and jogging‚ a Ranch House (community center) with meeting‚ fitness and recreational space‚ and pocket parks with “adventure play” areas. Garages will be set back‚ architecture will be varied‚ open space plentiful. The ranch will also boast fast fiber-optic Internet connections to each home and a homeowner’s Web site. The first of several “villages‚” Northtree‚ is under construction and is expected to open in June 2007. It will contain 1‚000 homes ranging in price from $200‚000 to $350‚000 and designed by six different builders‚ reflecting architectural styles in keeping with the area. A second village with 1‚800 dwelling units is slated to open in spring 2008. Northtree is home to the Banning Ranch’s first school‚ Banning Lewis Ranch Academy‚ a K-8 charter school built by BLRM and its participating builders. The school‚ serving District 49‚ welcomed its first students in fall 2006. Open to both future ranch residents and others‚ it already has a 900-person waiting list‚ Cassiani says. A second school will be built in the second village. Thoughtful planning and attention to detail drive BLRM’s vision of the project‚ Cassiani says. “How many times do you have a chance to start with a blank piece of paper and create something entirely new?” he asks. “Why not do it right?