Growing community in new large-scale master-planned developments.

The country’s largest master-planned community developer, Newland Communities, creates a new sales strategy that flips the industry norm on its head.

Before the 2008 financial crisis, Newland Communities was the country’s largest master planned community developer with 150 properties and over a billion dollars in annual revenue.  The developer had sold more than 200,000 residential units in its 50 year history.  But in the years prior to the financial crisis, leadership at Newland recognized that the market was evolving and that despite the fast pace of homesales, homeowners were aspiring for a stronger, more authentic community experience, particularly within Newland’s new development projects.  Previously, Newland had structured their sales model on pre-sales, often proceeding with the majority of development activity only once a critical mass of buyers had moved in.  This hedged the company’s financial risk but often meant they were not providing significant infrastructure or community amenities, straining relationships with the communities’ founding homebuyers and diminishing future sales as a result.

Despite booming sales, Newland understood in 2006 that it needed to create stronger community for homebuyers or it would risk commoditizing its developments.

In 2007,  Newland began an initiative to redesign its entire community development and sales strategies, beginning with a year-long user-based research project on the home buying experience.  Their goal was to design a new process that would foster the organic growth of community at pace with the growth of new homeowners to ensure that they were providing the amenities and infrastructure to do so while not overextending investment in advance of sufficient sales.  The result of their initiative was an entirely new sales process that shifted how and where Newland first invests in their communities.  Their new strategy centered on leading with the construction of a 10,000 square foot community center that would connect potential homebuyers with each other and with the existing natural and cultural amenities in the surrounding context.  New organizational structures and staffing supported the design, flipping the prior model on its head where 90% of Newland’s initial resources which had been focused on sales were now focused on providing buyers with excuses to participate in and help create new community experiences, trusting that these new experiences would convert to sales if it felt meaningful to the homebuyer.  The new community center was designed as a replicable prototype to be rolled-out nationally in all of Newland’s communities, modified at each location to fit its context.  The first was built as part of Newland’s Tehaleh Community, near Tacoma

Shannon Loew led the research and design for Newland Communities first while at IDEO in 2007 and then as the founder of FIX from 2008-2010.

ClientNewland Communities
Size10,000 SF community center
LocationMultiple locations nationally
ProgramCommercial, retail, event space
RoleVisioning & strategic planning
Market analysis & feasibility
Design
Project management