Life outside the Beltway has been good for Smith and other residents here, who say the development, built a decade ago, is close to amenities and near enough to their workplaces. The Largo Metro station is about a 10-minute drive, and Devonshire residents head to work in the District, Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs.
Only a few decades earlier, much of eastern Prince George’s was rural and undeveloped. But neighborhoods such as Devonshire Estates, featuring large, mostly four-bedroom homes, have emerged along Route 214 and U.S. 301. Beyond the stone gateway signs at the entrance, the quiet streets feature houses with brick fronts, prominent foyer windows and garages. Many of the homes have more than 3,000 square feet of living space.
Some residents had their homes constructed to specifications. Karen and Keith McKenzie’s house, built by Richmond American Homes in 2000, features an open floor plan that connects the kitchen and family room, and the McKenzies added a rear deck that allows them to look out over a storm-water pond that attracts birds and other wildlife. “The deer will come right up in the back yard,” said Keith McKenzie, an engineer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s office in Suitland.
The McKenzies also enjoy walking along the development’s paved trails. Bowie recently worked with residents on the best route for another trail connecting Devonshire Estates to an adjacent neighborhood.
Devonshire’s sizable homes attracted Smith, who had lived in a townhouse in Upper Marlboro. He also liked that Devonshire was located within Bowie. “We had done some research,” said Smith, 45, who has lived there with his wife and daughter since 2000. “We wanted to use the services in the city of Bowie.” The city provides trash collection, snow removal and police protection and offers such activities as summer concerts and events at nearby Allen Pond Park.
Karen McKenzie praised the city’s services. She once called to see what could be done about a broken streetlight. “I was so impressed. In one day, they were out and they fixed the light,” she said.
Some homeowners, including Earl Mann, who moved with his wife to Devonshire in 1998 from Woodbridge, took an active role with Bowie residents concerned about a commercial development directly in front of the entrance to Devonshire Estates.
The original proposal for a shopping center with a large grocery store didn’t sit well with residents, who didn’t like that the store would have faced the entry to their development. After years of discussions with developers and Prince George’s County officials, a county library is being built on a portion of the property instead. The 45,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to be completed in late June or early July, said Jack Sloan, associate director of the Prince George’s County Office of Central Services. The plan also calls for a bank, future commercial sites and a townhouse development.