Vagabond Shark

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Cookie cutter development coming to North Bethany?

Posted by Peter W on July 18, 2007

When I heard that North Bethany only has a handfull of developers for the 800+ acre site, I was worried that it would lead to ugly cookie cutter suburbia, and from the planning team’s developer interviews (“Development Plans, p.3) it looks like that is the case:

The developers acquiring land in the north Bethany project site are predominantly production builders, meaning they want to buy, build, sell, and conclude their investment as quickly as possible. This influences the type of housing product that they sell.

The developers relayed that their plan is to design and build product similar to what exists in the adjacent neighborhoods, build during the 1990s: single family residential (SFR), on small lots of 3,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet. townhomes and condominiums are also a product-type option, but on a smaller scale. It was noted that some of the developers like to build two products for diversity and thus reach a larger share of the market; it also enables projects to hit the density zoning requirements in places. The large developers (and primary landholders) are production builders. They have a formula that works and they stick to it. Thus, the product type planned for the area will currently have little diversity. A few developers are open to more product diversity, but they would likely partner or sell those parcels to a company that has experience doing something else, such as multifamily or mixed-use development.

It looks like the only hope for a real “community of distinction” is that if the plan calls for the kind of greater density and mixed use that these developers (like the giant West Hills Development aka “Arbor Homes”, Matrix Development aka “Legend Homes”) can’t do themselves, then they may sell it to someone with more experience and better architects / planners.

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