June 30, 2022
Bring Your Master-Planned Community To Life With Creative Placemaking
All business professionals are familiar with the “Four Ps” of marketing: product, place, price and promotion. When it comes to marketing a master-planned community, the “place” is a highly instrumental component of shaping homeowner lifestyles. Any land planner is all too aware that the property selected for a new master-planned community can have huge implications for each of those areas.
Successful master-planned community properties are built to become more than just a location where people live, but an extraordinary destination with unique lifestyle opportunities. This transformation is known as creative placemaking.
In many ways, creative placemaking design offers incredible lifestyle benefits for homeowners. When home builders and developers effectively make the most of their space, they can deliver several compelling advantages. Communities that rally around shared common spaces see reduced rates of crime and higher property values. Recreation areas help residents maintain a healthy lifestyle, which can translate to up to $1,500 in saved healthcare expenses per year. There are dozens of hidden benefits to creative placemaking that can become selling points and give your community an advantageous edge in an extremely competitive market.
Still, crafting the perfect community — while staying within the realm of financial possibility and the good graces of local ordinances — is easier said than done. Milesbrand can assist throughout your planning process, helping you bring out the best in your space without exceeding your budget.
What Is Placemaking?
Placemaking is the strategic approach to the planning, design, and development of public spaces into master-planned communities. Used to augment a property’s potential, strong placemaking practices promote community-wide interaction and improve residents’ overall happiness and well-being.
When you invite buyers to move into your master-planned community, you're not just asking them to invest in your real estate. Purchasing a new home requires homebuyers to trust your company with their family’s future. Homes are expensive, long-term purchases that homeowners expect to last for many years to come. With this future-oriented perspective in mind, builders and developers must strategically envision what their community will ultimately become at the start of every project to create a thoughtful, deliberate design that meets homeowner expectations for their future. Rather than seeing a dirt lot, land planners must take a keen eye to discover the space’s underlying potential that can be used to form an unforgettable community.
This initiative starts with the land planner. Each plot of land is unique and has something to offer within a community. Instead of solely focusing only on the community’s home designs, placemaking principles entail intentional concentration on the use of the land, community and amenities as a whole to create great places to live. Sometimes, the surrounding environment includes elements that could influence the entire branding of a master-planned community project. To make the most of a space and ensure no funds are wasted, it's crucial to remember the words of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright: "Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
Effective placemaking examines a multitude of elements and identifies how its residents, environment and economy can best work together to create a successful master-planned community where buyers want to live. By establishing a clear vision early on, finished projects can better fulfill the promise of community, longevity and an enticing lifestyle opportunity.
Why Does Creative Placemaking Matter for Community Development?
Not just a place to live — a place to enjoy life
When builders and developers share photography or offer tours of their homes, they are frequently merchandised with inviting furniture and accessories to create a sense of home. We all know the value of helping consumers imagine themselves living within one of these homes, and the same idea applies to the surrounding community.
Not every community needs a climbing wall, splash pad or community lake. Some builders and developers believe they must pull out all the stops to entice buyers, but this is far from the case. Though it would be nice to deliver Disneyland to consumers, staying realistic is friendlier for budgets on both ends. Fortunately, simple installations with cost-friendlier options can have a very similar effect. These smaller, yet still impactful, installations could include bike paths, park benches and Little Free Libraries. Simple inclusions like these may seem unimportant, but they add to the master-planned community’s lifestyle offer by making it a nice place to live. Although untouched wildlife can be beautiful, illustrating residents' place within it is even more impactful.
Thoughtful interior merchandising within a property can shift homebuyers’ perspectives. Suddenly, they're not just looking at a house, but a home. In the same way, land plots that establish areas for congregation, discussion and community-building show homebuyers that your community is not simply a place to live — it's a destination where they can comfortably spend a lifetime.
Building communities through building homes
We all know the adage that "home is where the heart is." As community developers, it's important to be aware that no matter how perfect your homes are, people want more than just a place to live – they want to experience connections. A large part of the consumer experience is significantly improved or hindered by the relationships that homeowners form in their community.
For builders and developers creating master-planned communities, this can be intimidating. It seems as though homeowner relationships with other community residents are outside of your control – or are they? While it's true that you can't equip every home with a built-in neighborhood best friend, you can foster healthy, happy relationships through the common areas you provide.
Choosing installations that inspire residents to explore their community also creates more opportunities to connect with other homeowners engaging in the same activities. Paved pathways encourage residents to get outside, engage in recreation and follow the trails to explore new areas of the neighborhood. Improving access to natural elements like water features or wooded areas can transform the community’s surrounding wilderness into a safe and fun nature adventure. Even the simplest of playsets will appeal to children, building formative young friendships and connecting neighborhood parents.
Placemaking is about more than creating a community with a beautiful landscape. Successfully planning a creative placemaking project means creating a community that is accessible and appealing to people from all walks of life. Placemaking fosters inclusivity by considering how the community can be thoughtfully constructed with places and amenities that benefit and appease all residents.
Successful placemaking accounts for the varying interests and concerns of different homeowners to make the community more livable and enjoyable. The result is a community that is oriented to resolve homeowner challenges, meet their needs and help them achieve their lifestyle goals. Including spaces that are accessible to all residents, such as walking trails, recreation centers, clubhouses and more, ensures everyone can enjoy lifestyle-enhancing facilities that only further the community’s desirability.
Enhance homeowner happiness and well-being
Placemaking also plays a significant role in boosting the health, happiness and well-being of master-planned community residents. Well-planned master-planned communities offer residents opportunities to enjoy abundant outdoor activities, form strong social ties and create healthier lifestyles filled with more physical activity.
When we worked with Crystal Valley, we learned that spending time in nature has proven long-term effects on our wellbeing. Those effects include fighting depression, improving our physical and mental health, making us happier and even kinder. The more time you spend in nature, the happier and healthier you become – in fact, spending just 5 minutes a day in the outdoors improves your sense of well-being.
Parks, bike paths, hiking trails and more encourage residents to stay active and spend more time outdoors, while clubhouses and recreation centers cultivate a sense of community and offer a place to build fulfilling social connections.
Bring out the best in an environment
Sometimes, placemaking doesn't even have to involve bringing in new elements. Natural features of your land can prove to be highly valuable to the development of your community. Although some builders and developers may instinctively opt to hide or disguise geographical elements, these features can help to inform your vision and further enhance the area’s value. Getting creative with resources that are already at your disposal can allow you to uncover unique hidden gems and make the most of what the community’s land has to offer.
For example, a master-planned community in Seattle was located within sight of Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately, the current plan meant that any views of the mountain would be obscured. The land planner recognized the tremendous value such an iconic view could bring to the area and recommended that the land entering the community be raised to deliver a better perspective.
This higher ground then served as the location of a community recreation center. The center had a sweeping vantage point of the entire community, as well as a captivating view of Mt. Rainier in the distance. Not only did the planner create an unbeatable focal point, but they also created an additional opportunity for community engagement within the recreation center. This example highlights a key rule for effective placemaking – don’t miss opportunities to leverage your property’s distinct landmarks, it could be a successful marketing tool perfect for enriching your community.
What Placemaking Means for Your Master-Planned Community Marketing
There's a reason that chefs are judged for presentation. Even the most appetizing dish would be turned away if it was served on a dirty plate. Matching the quality of your land to the value and comfort of your homes gives consumers a holistic view of what life would be like in your community. It adds value, differentiates you from competitors and provides noticeable benefits to your residents and the environment.
At Milesbrand, we call that a win-win-win — wouldn't you?
Bring out the Best in Your Community with Creative Placemaking
For years, our company has helped developers take their master-planned communities from land to brand through creative placemaking. With effective marketing and branding support, you can successfully showcase your master-planned community's appealing potential to your target market.
Milesbrand is happy to partner with your team every step of the way, from location scouting to pre-build marketing, to move-in day! Contact us today to bring strong master-planned marketing to your community.