Community Development Outdoor Living

Atlanta-based asset management and property development company St. Bourke has doubled down its focus on placemaking post-COVID. Today’s homebuyers want more outdoor living, connectivity to nature and greenspaces, walkability, amenities and much more.

“COVID brought social isolation to the forefront and providing places that connect people versus forcing them apart to feel isolated and disconnected has become a very important design and land development trend,” St. Bourke President Ben Simpson said. “With a distinct focus on placemaking, St. Bourke creates places where people want to live in and interact with, places that truly feel like home.”

Whether designing a single-family community in Cobb County, a build-to-rent (BTR) community in Newton or a master-planned community in Forsyth, one fact rings true, “people want to live in a place they can put down roots and envision themselves in the long-term. It’s no longer enough to just build a bunch of uniform homes, throw in a pool and clubhouse combo, and call it a day. Today’s homebuyers and renters demand more from their communities in terms of design, amenities and programming.”

When St. Bourke commences design and land planning work on a project, it begins the delicate process of striking a balance between minimizing development and construction costs and designing a thoughtful, beautiful community that appeals to a wide variety of buyers and withstands the test of time. The St. Bourke team immediately sets out to identify and problem solve potential roadblocks to development ranging from physical site constraints to zoning restrictions. Given that both development and home construction costs have increased by approximately 30% over the last year alone due to pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, St. Bourke value-engineers the site’s land plan to work with its natural features and topography instead of against them to reduce development and construction costs through initiatives like maximizing lot count, reducing the number of basement lots, and minimizing the amount of grading required to achieve pad-ready lots.

As compared to pre-COVID times, the St. Bourke team is dedicating significantly more time and effort into the design and development of community amenities. In the recent past, many new communities could get away with the bare minimum in terms of an amenity package. Sometimes communities could even skip the construction of a community amenity all together to keep home prices and HOA dues as low as possible. But with buyers paying record-high prices in a rising interest rate environment, they are demanding more from their new communities than just a house to live in. Amenities vary depending on factors like community size and type, but St. Bourke’s typical amenity packages include some combination of walking trails and paved sidewalks, pocket parks and outdoor communal areas, children’s playgrounds, swimming pools and splash pads, community clubhouses, outdoor fitness centers, and sports lawns and courts (soccer, tennis, pickleball, etc.). The development of high-quality and interactive amenity packages is arguably even more important in BTR communities where management companies continuously market homes and the community to current and prospective tenants.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 drove people to make more health-conscious decisions in terms of their living space. Infection risks led to increased demand for privacy (detached housing units, private backyards), and the recent lockdown period highlighted the importance of having functional outdoor spaces for both entertainment (playgrounds and parks) and physical well-being (outdoor fitness centers, walking and jogging trails). All of these impacts must now be considered when designing a community from the ground up: are the lot depths enough to provide a private, usable backyard? Are there enough outdoor amenity features to keep residents entertained and physically fit should another lockdown occur? St. Bourke’s focus has shifted to designing communities where residents can live, work (remotely), and play in without feeling like they’re missing key elements of well-being and happiness.

Prospective home buyers are not just demanding more from community design – they are also demanding more from the homes themselves. The overnight transition to working and educating from home has increased homebuyer demand for flexible spaces within the home that can be used for home offices, extra bedrooms, children’s playrooms, and even storage. Buyers are also demanding high-efficiency appliances to help offset rising mortgage costs, advanced air filtration systems to help keep residents healthy, and lightning-fast cable and internet connections to facilitate working from home and the incorporation of smart home features.

Focused on Southeast communities, St. Bourke specializes in the design and development of new residential communities as well as the revitalization of stalled or abandoned communities.

St. Bourke is an asset management and property development company primarily focused on residential communities and commercial assets. Offering a full suite of placemaking services ranging from acquisition through detailed design and development to ongoing management, St. Bourke creates thriving communities and drives significant value for its clients, partners and community stakeholders. Since its inception in 2015, St. Bourke has helped a variety of both private and institutional clients achieve their project goals. With more than 90 active projects across 20 U.S. markets, the St. Bourke portfolio consists of more than 12,000 acres of land and 25,000 residential lots. For more information on how to work with St. Bourke from the ground up, call 678-853-2530 or visit www.StBourke.com.

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