How Do You Stack Up: 4 Keys to Effective Master-Planned Communities
There’s a very thought-provoking article about Johnson Development in the recent BuilderOnline: A Developer of Master-Planned Communities Shares Know How. Read the entire article here.
In the article, Johnson’s COO, Douglas Goff, suggests today’s MPC isn’t your father’s MPC. “There’s no secret code,” according to Goff, but today’s MPC offers features that weren’t important 20 years ago. “Walkability and mixed use are becoming more important,” Goff says. And, Johnson loves to develop communities that can support close-in employment and generate jobs.
What makes a successful MPC today? Johnson Developments suggests the following:
(1) Cast a Wide Net — MPCs used to be primarily single-family oriented; now they need to address the full spectrum of potential buyers — singles, move-down, families. And, there’s interesting info regarding price range: Johnson Development mentions while proformas don’t usually pencil out for first-time buyers, upscale rental housing is a good alternative for that segment of the market not wanting to make a home commitment…yet.
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(2) Mine the Data — Data surrounds us today; using is correctly is key. Johnson collects and analyzes website traffic and on-site visits — and shares that information with its builders. They’re also taking advantage of QR codes to deliver on-demand information (vs. lots of pre-printed information delivered by a fully-staffed welcome center).
We’ve talked about today’s buyer in previous blogs — interested in using touchscreen systems and tablets for narrowcasting (being able to select from a broad range of information to focus on what’s of interest) and “green” conscious (print on-demand makes sense as compared to reams of paper).
(3) Fast-Track Amenities — Sense of place is important to today’s buyer. Remember we talked about “selling the neighborhood”? MPCs, according to Goff, need to invest more upfront in community anchors and enhanced natural features.
This “new but fully-functional” neighborhood is consistent with the ability to compete against resale — as long as buyers can see what’s either available now or planned for the short-term. Take a look at Neal Communities’ Grand Palm Amenity Package — there’s something for every buyer!
(4) Plan for Down Cycles — Goff suggests that cultural and economic shifts need to be on everyone’s radar. Whether its keeping tabs on the quality of school districts or growth projects, knowing the market via research and attention builds a strong foundation.