Real Estate Term of the Day: Master Plan

Real Estate Term of the Day: Master Plan

MASTER PLAN – a document that describes, in narrative and with maps an overall development concept. The master plan is used to coordinate the preparation of more detailed plans or may be a collection of detailed plans. The plan my be prepared by a local government to guide private and public development or by a developer on a specific project (Barron’s Dictionary of Real Estate Terms)

To properly define a master plan we have to go back to the turn of the century to understand the history of master planned communities and the garden city movement. According to Wikipedia, “the garden city movement is a method of urban planning that was initiated in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the United Kingdom. Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained communities surrounded by “greenbelts”, containing proportionate areas, of residences, industry and agriculture. [Ebenezer Howard] idealized [that a] garden city would house 32,000 people on a site of 6,000 acres (2,400 ha), planned on a concentric pattern with open spaces, public parks and six radial boulevards, 120 ft (37 m) wide, extending from the center. The garden city would be self-sufficient and when it reached full population, another garden city would be developed nearby. Howard envisaged a cluster of several garden cities as satellites of a central city of 250,000 people, linked by road and rail.”

“In the early history of the United States, planned communities were quite common: St. Augustine, planned in 1565, Jamestown, New Haven, Philadelphia, Williamsburg, Annapolis, and Savannah are examples of this trend. The national capital (Washington, D.C.), and several state capitals (Jackson, Mississippi; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; Salt Lake City, Utah; Tallahassee, Florida; and Austin, Texas) were essentially carved out of the wilderness to serve as capital cities. The suburban growth in the Sunbelt states has coincided with the popularity of Master Planned Communities within established suburbs.”

John Burns Real Estate Consulting out of Irvine California, put together an annual ranking of the Top 50 Master Planned Communities 2014 (in the US).

Metro Denver had 4 communities ranked on the list including:

  • No. 7 – Stapleton, Denver (up 4 spots – ranked 11th in 2013)
  • No. 36 – Green Valley Ranch, Denver (not previously ranked in 2013)
  • No. 40 – Highlands Ranch (up 10 spots – ranked 50th in 2013)
  • No. 46 – The Meadows, Castle Rock (down 14 spots – ranked 32nd in 2013)

The consulting firm also had this to say about Denver’s master planned communities:

Denver’s master-planned communities prove that lifestyle is not just for warm climates.
Four Denver masterplans made our Top 50 ranking, second only to Houston. These Denver communities prove that MPCs are not just for the “sunny states,” with great lifestyle and access to amenities and employment that buyers want. The 508 sales at Stapleton in 2014 made it the 7th best-selling community in our ranking for 2014. Senior Vice President Ken Perlman observes, “With 50 parks, a thriving town center, and community-sponsored arts and entertainment, Stapleton serves as a model for urban infill redevelopment across the country. Highlands Ranch and The Meadows in Douglas County prove that great amenities, high-performing schools, and proximity to employment (Denver Tech Center) are what buyers are seeking.”

Town Center Park, Highlands Ranch, CO
Town Center Park, Highlands Ranch, CO – 2015