Not far from our house was a big parcel of undeveloped  land, full of woods and meadows.

Several years ago, as new housing developments mushroomed across the countryside, we worried about this particular parcel.  One day, while driving, we spotted a sign on the wild meadow.  We could make out the word “Preserve” and we cheered.  As we got closer, the rest of the sign was revealed.  “The Estates at the Preserve.”

We were horror struck.  McMansions were about to sprout - sorry, “estates” – on land that had failed to be preserved – yet was called The Preserve.  That’s when Chris said “Why don’t they just name it The Problem at the Solution?”

Not only are developers guilty of overbuilding, adding thousands of unnecessary new houses to a country that already has tons of housing stock, but they are also guilty of something almost as terrible. 

Lack of creativity in naming their developments.

What’s with the pretentious construct “The Blank at the Blank?” 

And why do they all copy each other and keep using this formula?

Does anyone really run into an old college friend at the grocery store and say “Oh yes, we live at The Estates at the Preserve?”  Or “We’ve moved to the Residences at the Knob Hill?”  I would hope they just say “We live at the Preserve.”  Or, “Knob Hill.”  Doesn’t everyone look for shorthand to describe their neighborhood?

Around here, for example, there’s a perfectly lovely neighborhood called Heatherwold.  Everyone who lives there ends up saying “You near, behind the library.”  There’s another absolutely charming old development called Bowling Green.  The shorthand there is “I live behind the Acme.”  (grocery store).  This makes it sound like they live in the dumpsters, so I am constantly lobbying for people to stop saying “I live behind the Acme,” although I applaud the lack of snobbery inherent in that.

So this all goes to my argument that developers really, really need to lose their pretentious formula of ”The Residences at the Blank.”  My favorite was an ad for a swanky new space in Philadelphia.  The headline actually read “The Penthouse at the Residences at the Western Union Building.”  Imagine the bachelor who bought that pad, trying to score at the bar.  By the time he finished reciting where he lived, the girl he’s trying to pick up would have gotten bored and wandered away.   Or she should have, because if he actually said that, he’s really ”conceited,” as my kids would say (there’s a word that no one uses, post-teen years). 

Anyway, just google “The Residences at” and you’ll get thousands of hits. 

It’s all so pompous and silly.  My brother, who used to be in the development game but has moved on, confirms that developers lack creativity.  They do indeed totally copy each other when it comes to naming places.  And they don’t understand how people use language, or why they should be careful in their choices.

Years ago, another new loft building opened up in Old City, a block away from our place (which had no name).  The developer hung out a sign:  The Castings.   Chris scoffed, and I asked why.  “Because ‘castings’ means worm dung!” he explained.  How he knew this before we moved to the suburbs and had a lawn, I don’t know, but he was right.  Would you want to live at a place with that name?

My final example:  a retirement community called Harvest Village.   You wonder if the logo is the Grim Reaper.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter