Centennial, Calif.: Heritage Unbound

By By Randy Jackson and John Martin | December 31, 2004


Spanning 278,000 acres, Centennial is a new self-contained town that will set new standards of walkability when the first phase gets under weigh in early 2007.


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Kennecott, as massive as it is, would be dwarfed by the 278,000-acre Centennial project (Tejon Ranch) that dominates most of the Tehachapi Mountains separating the Los Angeles basin from the great Central Valley of California. Millions of travelers have observed its vast openness on their frenetic passage to and from these major regions of the Golden State. No more. After more than 150 years as a dedicated ranching operation, the first phase of an emerging new "leap in space" is taking shape. Centennial is near everything, and isolated at the same time. The degree of each is not a function of distance, but of time. The time of day one travels to Los Angeles is what determines its proximity, not the mileage.

The development to occur here is a product of an unusual partnership that may signal how communities will develop in the future. Three developers, each with a special focus, joined with the land owner to form the planning and development entity that will move into its first phase of development by 2007. The residential and commercial development components will be compacted to fit 23,000 housing units, 2 million square feet of retail space and a 12 million square foot office complex on about 6,500 acres. Pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, arranged so that no home is more than a half-mile from a village retail center will make walking to the store easier than driving.

In addition to the comprehensive and self-contained community facilities and land uses this plan must include, it triggers commitment to over a hundred thousand acres of habitat and open space to be managed by the Trust for Public Land. Through development quality and resource stewardship the impressive heritage of this place will be carried forward even though the ranching eventually disappears.