Bhupendra Kapur stood in the front yard of his spacious corner house in Emerson, a residential and office community in North Laurel, Md.
Kapur, 67, who worked for 35 years as a machinist at Domino Sugar in Baltimore, said he moved in 2003 from Glen Burnie with his wife and family to a new $500,000 model home in Emerson.
He said he loves having a two-car garage, finished basement and a large back yard in which to play cricket and badminton, which he did when he was a boy in his native India. He also relishes being close to the elementary school that his grandchildren attend and living in a quiet community.
The community is named for Ralph Waldo Emerson, the 19th-century author and poet who wrote eloquently and lavishly about the mysteries of the natural world.
His motif is reflected in contemplative street names that crisscross the community: Skylark Boulevard, Winter Sun Road, Fragrant Lilies Way, Purple Cloud Row and Deep Skies Drive, to name a few.
“There’s peace and calm, no disturbances,” Kapur said, glancing at the toddlers frolicking at the neighborhood playground directly across the street. “Nobody’s hollering at each other.”
Accessible to job centers: Emerson, which occupies 570 acres in southeastern Howard County, broke ground in 2001. Hugging Interstate 95 from Route 216 north to Gorman Road, the community comprises apartments, single-family houses and townhouses.
The community was developed by Chicago-based General Growth Properties, which specializes in residences, office complexes and shopping centers. The company later merged with Rouse Co., developer of the nearby planned community of Columbia. Rouse purchased the land and set it aside for Emerson along with the adjoining Stone Lake, a gated residential community.
Emerson is a big draw for several reasons, said Eric Pakulla, an agent with Re/Max Advantage in Columbia. “It has a very attractive location between Baltimore and Washington and caters to other major markets like Annapolis and Frederick. The schools are very strong. There’s a community pool, community center, walkways and playgrounds.”
Major employment centers within a short drive include the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Verizon Wireless and W.R. Grace, he added.
Bill Thomas and his wife, Karen, lease a two-bedroom unit at Enclave at Emerson for $1,900 a month. Bill, 50, said he is able to reach his job as an IT specialist at Joint Base Andrews “by hopping on 95 and going straight down there.” Karen, 55, has a job in an ophthalmology office in Gaithersburg. Unlike her husband, she steers “the back roads” to work.
“I take Route 29, and then I veer off,” she said. “I hate 95.”
Lack of shops: One complaint voiced about Emerson is its lack of retail stores.
“We were told when we moved they were going to put in a shopping center. We need a dry cleaner and a coffee place,” said resident Denise Lindsay. “It’s never happened.”
The residents, though, can get to the remodeled Savage branch library, Historic Savage Mill and Savage Park in five minutes. To the north, Columbia is 10 minutes away; the city of Laurel and its sparkling Towne Centre Laurel is three miles south.
The lack of a shopping center in the community is not a turnoff for the Thomases.
In fact, they are saving money to make a down payment on a home in Emerson. They said they’re leaning toward buying a townhouse.
Emerson hits all the right sensory notes with the couple, reminding them of their Midwest roots. For Bill, it is reminiscent of the neighborhood where he grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich. And Karen, whose home was three blocks from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., treasures memories that include being surrounded by nature.
“This is away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” she said. “We see deer.”
Living there: Emerson is bordered by Gorman Road and I-95 to the north; Gorman and Stephens roads to the east; Stephens Road and Route 216 to the south; and Gorman and Murray Hill roads to the west.
During the past 12 months, 19 houses were sold in Emerson, with purchase prices ranging from $400,000 for a townhouse to $603,000 for a four-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family house on a quarter-acre lot, said Christina Elliott, an agent and owner of the Christina Elliott Team of Keller Williams Legacy Metropolitan in Baltimore.
The list price for these units range from $400,000 to $615,000, she added. “We have many clients each year who specifically seek out Emerson while searching for a new home,” Elliott said, “as they want the benefits that come with a newly constructed, well-laid-out and planned community.”
Schools: Gorman Crossing Elementary, Murray Hill Middle and Atholton High.
Transit: Central Maryland Regional Transit (CMRT) bus service runs in nearby Savage and Laurel. MARC commuter rail stations in Savage and Laurel are short drives away, as is commuter bus service in the Maple Lawn section of Fulton.
Crime: In the past six months, there were reported two rapes, five aggravated assaults, five robberies, 18 burglaries and eight motor-vehicle thefts in North Laurel’s 20723 Zip code, which includes Emerson, said Jeanne Upchurch, a spokeswoman for the Howard County police.
Tony Glaros is a freelance writer.