Urban living is all the rage these days — even in the suburbs. At Crown, a planned community in Gaithersburg, a pedestrian-friendly downtown has risen not far from major commuter routes such as Interstate 270 and the Intercounty Connector, and builders are adding to the supply of homes with one of the most sought-after features for today’s buyers: walkability.

Wormald’s “City Collection” single-family houses — three- and four-level residences with expansive interior space and elevated terraces — were inspired by visits to renowned urban neighborhoods.

“We looked at Lincoln Park in Chicago, Russian Hill in San Francisco and Kalorama in D.C. to design homes based on the best practices of Second Empire architecture with rear garages and alleys,” says Ken Wormald, a partner in the Wormald Companies based in Frederick. “We added in modern inspiration with lots of glass and outdoor living space, such as rooftop terraces with outdoor fireplaces.”

Wormald says the dramatic exteriors include brick, stone and HardiPlank instead of vinyl siding, and each home has a mahogany front door.

“We call these homes ‘turnkey luxury’ properties because they’re similar to high-end custom homes but allow buyers to choose different finish packages rather than individual features,” says Wormald. “We include almost everything in each package, and then just offer a few options such as an elevator and a wet bar.”


The main level has 10-foot-high ceilings and an open floor plan. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

Suburban yet urban: The “turnkey luxury” aspect is also fulfilled with the “Lock and Go Lifestyle Yard Maintenance Program” that comes with each residence and includes lawn mowing, snow shoveling and leaf raking as part of the $156-per-month homeowner association fee.

The three-car garages, high ceilings, extensive storage and 3,400 to nearly 5,000 finished square feet in each residence may seem more like suburban amenities. Yet the houses are close together like their urban counterparts and within walking distance of numerous recreational and entertainment amenities, as well as shops and restaurants.

“We’re attracting a mix of buyers, from people who are downsizing from an 8,000-square-foot home to a 4,000-square-foot home, to young families who like the idea of living within walking distance of so many amenities,” says Wormald.

The large houses and access to amenities come with a hefty price tag of $1.1 million to $1.5 million.

Georgetown in Gaithersburg: The City Collection with the Georgetown package, which has 4,882 square feet of finished interior space and 879 square feet of outdoor living space, might resemble a Georgetown home on the outside, but inside the model has a modern vibe. The open floor plan continues on all four levels of the residence, and architectural elements such as gently arched doorways, glass doors and transom windows repeat throughout the house.


Just off the dining area is a curving staircase with large windows on each landing. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

The above-ground entry level of the house offers flexibility for homeowners. A grand two-story entrance provides drama when welcoming guests and leads to a center hall with high ceilings. At the back of this level is a curving staircase with large windows on each landing. There are three main rooms on this level, each of which can be used for almost any purpose. The “studio” includes a closet and has a door to a full bath, so it could function as an extra bedroom. Across the hall are a large home office and a media room. This level also has a coat closet and a storage room that can be converted to an elevator. Nearby is a door to the three-car garage.

The main level has 10-foot-high ceilings and walls of windows on all four sides. This open floor plan has a living room and dining room on one side of the house. A hallway between the dining room and the kitchen includes a butler’s pantry with an optional wet bar, a built-in desk and a walk-in pantry. This level also has a powder room and an elevator or storage room, as well as two openings overlooking the entry level. The open family room, kitchen and sunroom include two sets of glass doors to a terrace with an optional outdoor kitchen. The family room has a gas fireplace, and the kitchen includes an oversized island, upgraded stainless-steel appliances and an abundance of white cabinets.


A spiral staircase outside the master suite sitting room links the third level with the main level terrace and the roof terrace. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

About one-half of the third level is devoted to the master suite, which has a bedroom-size walk-in closet; a luxurious bathroom with a freestanding tub; a glass-enclosed shower with multiple showerheads and a seat; and a large bedroom and a separate sitting room wrapped in windows. A spiral staircase outside the sitting room links this level with the main level terrace and the roof terrace. This level has two more bedrooms that share a connecting bathroom with a double sink vanity. A large linen closet and a laundry room with additional storage complete this level.

The fourth level has a loft with a fireplace and an optional wet bar plus a bedroom with a walk-in closet and a full bath. Glass doors lead to an L-shaped roof terrace with an optional outdoor fireplace and space for dining, sunbathing and entertaining.

What’s nearby: Residents at Crown can walk to restaurants and other businesses of all types, such as LA Fitness, Harris Teeter, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Coastal Flats, Old Town Pour House, Ted’s Bulletin, Smashburger and La Madeleine. Movies, shops and more restaurants are nearby at the Washingtonian Center and other retail locations. Within Crown, residents can go to a clubhouse with swimming pools, tennis courts, a rock climbing wall, a yoga studio, meeting rooms and fitness facilities. Parks and walking trails provide green space around the single-family houses.

Schools: Rosemont Elementary, Forest Oak Middle, Gaithersburg High

Transit: Residents can access Ride On bus service to Shady Grove Metro station for Red line service, as well as Germantown Transit Center and Rockville.

Michele Lerner is a freelance writer.


The L-shaped roof terrace has space for dining, sunbathing and entertaining. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)
City Collection at Crown

508 Steinbeck Ave., Gaithersburg

The 29 single-family houses are priced from $1.1 million to $1.5 million.

Builder: Wormald

Features: The houses have three or four levels with three or four bedrooms, three to four full baths, a three-car garage, Viking appliances in the kitchen, a walk-in pantry, stone, brick and cement siding exteriors, oversized windows and luxurious tile bathrooms. Elevators are optional.

Bedrooms/bathrooms: three or four / four or five

Square footage: about 3,414 to 4,948

Homeowner association fees: $156 per month

View models: Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays to Fridays; and by appointment.

Contact: Sales Manager Pam Sharma at 301-926-4000 or visit www.wormald.com/crown .