Master-Planned Communities

After 5+ Year Hiatus, Master Planned Community Development Picked Up in 2011

March 22, 2012

An improving U.S. housing sales picture and a flow of available financing allowed a number of large residential-commercial projects around the U.S. to break ground, reposition product offerings or resume development in the past 12 months. Starting up for new master planned communities in still-challenging housing market conditions is an encouraging vote of confidence in the future. This confidence seems justified. We are forecasting a 21% increase in housing construction activity in 2012, with increases in single-family permits (up 23%) and multi-family permits (up 21%).

We’re glad to see master-planned development activity resume because the 2011 list of top-selling U.S. master planned communities is still dominated by projects started a decade ago! Today, builders are responding to market, demographic and consumer conditions. Top selling U.S. MPCs of the early 2000s often included the following:

  • The Villages (#1 on our 2011 sales list)
  • The Woodlands (#2)
  • Irvine Ranch (#4)
  • Lakewood Ranch (#9)
  • Highlands Ranch (#19)

Summerlin, Cinco Ranch, Telfair, Mountain’s Edge, Providence and Sienna Plantation have also been routinely ranked in the top tier over the past decade. These communities were also top-selling projects in our 2011 survey and have remained successful by learning and adapting to the lessons of the past decade. At the same time, the long-awaited resumption in building activity will bring the next generation of top-selling, innovative MPC projects forward.

The following is our ranking of the 50 top-selling U.S. master plans in 2011

One thing that has changed since the early 2000s is the individual and combined volume of the “top-selling MPCs”. In 2003, all of the top 10 MPCs sold over 1,200 units individually and together they accounted for about 20,000 new home sales. In 2011, only one U.S. MPC sold over 1,000 units, and the top 10 projects sold only a combined 7,459 units, about 1/3 the combined sales volume of the top 10 MPC sales leaders in the early 2000s.

Market resurgence has energized large-scale development projects around the U.S. including:

  • Irvine’s Great Park master plan on the former El Toro Airbase in Orange County, CA. This 1,300-acre community by Five Point Communities will ultimately have 5,000 homes and 1.2 million square feet of commercial space.
  • Sendero, the first village in Orange County’s 17,000-acre Rancho Mission Viejo master plan, is scheduled to open for sales by summer 2013. Sendero will offer 940 attached and detached homes, including a gated, active-adult area with 285 single-level residences, and 200 apartment units.
  • At the River Park MPC in Oxnard, CA, Shea Properties resumed construction after a 5-year halt on the stalled 600,000 square foot Collection at River Park commercial center, to be anchored by Target (open), Whole Foods and REI.
  • Civita, a new mixed-use, urban infill development in San Diego, CA is selling the first phase of for-sale townhomes and a 360-unit apartment complex is almost done. Civita will ultimately be developed with up to 4,800 residential units, and 900,000 square feet of retail and offices.
  • Newland Communities has broken ground on two new start-up communities in the past few months. Waterset in the Tampa, FL area is a re-start of a stalled MPC that was put on hold in the housing downturn. Waterset could ultimately be developed with nearly 7,000 homes and Phase I will open in late 2012. In Seattle, WA, Newland is building Tehaleh, the former Cascadia project acquired in 2011. Tahaleh will have over 6,000 homes at build out.
  • The Riverstone master plan in the Naples, FL area is being developed by GL Homes. This gated, golf-course project will have 850 homes and extensive recreational amenities, with prices in the $300,000s to $600,000s. The project opened for sales in January 2012 and recorded over 70 units in the first month.
  • Viridian, is a new 5,000 unit master planned community that is being developed by Huffines Communities at a former gravel quarry near Dallas, Texas. Models are under construction and the first products will open in the second half of 2012.
  • Galo Properties, the developer of Alamo Ranch in San Antonio (#5 in our 2011 ranking), started construction of a project in Austin called Water Oak, with plans for 1,000 homes and lots to start deliveries in 2013.

Our Consulting team has been active across the nation analyzing the top-selling master plans and their competition, demographics and consumer housing preference trends, as well as housing and economic conditions. Give us a call or drop an email to find out how we can help you make informed market, consumer and product decisions.

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