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By Randy Jackson, President, PlaceWorks

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The future trends for Master Planned Communities, will be responding to both the buyers need for smaller neighborhood size and pricing sensitivity, along with the Capital Markets need for greater agility and quicker return on investment. What follows is seven shifts in design of Master Planned Communities that help achieve those drivers.

1. Product Diversification

The highly-fragmented buyer in our markets are looking at communities that have a finely tuned segmentation program. Mixing 8 – 10 products in each Village creates a very rich diversity of buyer and income level. Additionally, mixing products in small enclaves, within the village allows for street and neighborhood crafting.

  • Diversity of product capturing a larger % of the buyer segments
  • 8-10 products types per Village
  • A greater number of product types in each neighborhood increases absorption, minimizes carry cost, and optimize product development cycle
  • Street and neighborhood crafting of community will command premiums
  • Varying of lot widths and depths will allow builder to accommodate unique floor plan variations.
  • Introducing slightly higher density within areas of the plan could facilitate inclusion of an affordable housing component

2. 18-month to Neighborhood Completion
Tighter build-out programs will provide the buyer with shorter nuisance time frames, allowing for the completion of neighborhoods so families can grow-up together.

  • Limit product to 45-90 units per product in each neighborhood
  • Hop-scotch product types within neighborhoods for a better streetscape
  • Complete a series of small neighborhood amenities exclusively targeted to a diversity of residents
  • Tighter timeframes facilitated cost containment for materials and labor


3. Active Adult Village in a Village
Most active adults want to be part of younger neighborhoods but want their own privacy too. The Active Adult buyer is a discretionary buyer. The product type and floor plan are very important because the buyer needs an incentive to move.

  • Include an Active Adult neighborhood, 200-250 du, within a village or community
  • Mix 3 – 4 products to provide a full range of Active Adult home types
  • Provide privacy areas within the home and in outdoor patios/California rooms
  • Provide a small exclusive park or amenity for private use of Active Adults
  • Pools should have private access only
  • Walking trails are essential and should have mile markers and variety of levels

4. Product in a Product
With the trend for a richer mix of product within a community, why limit one product type to one building. Mix flats, townhomes, and carriage unit in one building to achieve verity with the added opportunity to serve inter-generational living needs.

  • Flats – Townhomes – Carriage units
  • Streets with 3-4 unit types to create a rich community character

5. Green Scoring for Community Sustainability
New home buyers see themselves as environmentally conscience and expect their community to be green and sustainable. Green Scoring a master plan by showing how it ties to existing trails and parks in surrounding communities, or mapping the potential future communities tree cover, illustrates the sustainability of the community.

  • Map walkability and connectivity to schools, parks, and adjacent community activities
  • Integrate landscape program to match surrounding neighborhoods to reduce heat-islands
  • Qualify the environmental sustainability of proposed community
  • Rank community to other known communities by creating a green score index

6. Farmscaping, Productive Amenities and Social Clubs
No longer are community amenities single purpose facilities geared for the whole complex. They are becoming smaller in size, linked together for economy and maintenance, and serve more than one function. Landscapes will be edible and part of a healthy foods program. Open space will be programable, leasable and active 24-7. Recreation centers will be smaller and double as Social Clubs and pay-as-you-go

  • Amenities pay their own way
  • Open space is either native, recreational, utilitarian or ag production
  • Recreation facilities and Social Clubs are pay-to-play programs
  • Versatility and flexibility of common areas allows for programing to evolve over time

7. Go Net Zero
Sustainability is the next mandatory amenity for the community buyer. Homes with solar micro-grids, community energy storage, gray-water reuse and rainwater capture will be both green and cheaper to operate and maintain when created at the community level.

  • Building the infrastructure into the cost of the home and community will amortize the cost to the consumer
  • Take advantage of mass buying programs at the community level
  • Use Smart Home technology to link to the Smart Community facilities


Check out the other articles in our 2017 Trends Series:

Technology (Part 1)  /   Technology (Part 2)  /   Marketing and Consumer Insights  /   Multifamily  /    Business Management  /   Capital  /   Design


PlaceWorks, formerly known as The Planning Center|DC&E, was founded in 1975 as a private consulting firm devoted to developing viable, imaginative planning solutions to the physical, social, economic, and environmental challenges that arise from urbanization.  




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