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Thread: Tract housing builders embracing TNDs? Sort of.

  1. #1
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    Tract housing builders embracing TNDs? Sort of.

    I live in Indianapolis, where sprawl rules, seemingly unencumbered by a vast expanse of cheap land in every direction.

    In recent years, a few suburban greenfields and one large, old urban neighborhood have been transformed through traditional neighborhood development.

    The urban renewal neighborhood was made affordable largely through government grants, but the remaining TNDs have been left to the market...especially the upper end of the market ($300K and up).

    Fortunately, a few more typical suburban tract housing and townhome builders have bought into new urbanist ideas and started their own quasi-new urban neighborhoods, sans commercial real estate. Indeed, one of them is building my new home (on what was a cornfield)...complete with an alley garage. Final price with options: around $120K.

    Why have traditional neighborhood developers so overtly shunned more affordable builders? Or is it the affordable builders who have shunned the high land costs in most TNDs? Is there a solution to this, or will only the people with BMWs have the option to walk to the grocery store?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    It is just speculation on my part when I suggest that the cost of developing a TND subdivision may be more than that of traditional suburban development. TND's are expected to have more amenities and a higher quality of finish, both in the public and in the private realm. That alley your garage is on costs money to build. It may be easy to say that a porch will only add a few thousand to the cost of a home, but costs like these quickly add up. The goal of affordable housing is not to build the prettiest units, but to provide as much affordable housing as possible for the families needing it.
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    It is just speculation on my part when I suggest that the cost of developing a TND subdivision may be more than that of traditional suburban development. TND's are expected to have more amenities and a higher quality of finish, both in the public and in the private realm. That alley your garage is on costs money to build. It may be easy to say that a porch will only add a few thousand to the cost of a home, but costs like these quickly add up. The goal of affordable housing is not to build the prettiest units, but to provide as much affordable housing as possible for the families needing it.
    Counterpoint: As far as I can tell mine is the only subdivision in the near-northern suburbs (the most expensive side) that starts below $100,000, and the prices are comparable to this builder's other more typical low-end developments in the area. This builder also has identical homes to mine on cheaper land to the west and south that start in the low $90s.

    It's mainly because the builder manages its subcontractors and suppliers sort of like Wal-Mart does.

    Another counterpoint: These houses are so architecturally attractive that they can look great without a single brick (mine won't have any). Of course brick improves the look more, but it's totally optional.

    Here's the ultra-affordable southern development. Not too shabby, eh?

    http://www.cpmorgan.com/main/communi...x?community=56

  4. #4
    Have you considered that the high price tag simply reflects higher demand for this kind of development? If they easily sell the inventory at the higher price tag then the homes are priced right. There are important land cost savings made in traditional town building that make up for the higher cost of home building.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mediagiant
    Counterpoint: As far as I can tell mine is the only subdivision in the near-northern suburbs (the most expensive side) that starts below $100,000, and the prices are comparable to this builder's other more typical low-end developments in the area. This builder also has identical homes to mine on cheaper land to the west and south that start in the low $90s.

    It's mainly because the builder manages its subcontractors and suppliers sort of like Wal-Mart does.

    Another counterpoint: These houses are so architecturally attractive that they can look great without a single brick (mine won't have any). Of course brick improves the look more, but it's totally optional.

    Here's the ultra-affordable southern development. Not too shabby, eh?

    http://www.cpmorgan.com/main/communi...x?community=56
    I looked through the housing choices in the various neighborhoods on the company's web site. I have to disagree with you when you term this a new urbanist style. These are fairly typical homes with front-loaded garages and nondescript styling. New urbanists will insist on minimizing the garage if not taking it completely off the street, on having dominant porches, and on adopting one or two recognizable architectural syles. That is only the housing. There are several other neighborhood elements required in new urbanism, and the builder's web site did not provide enough information to determine if these are provided.

    This is fairly typical suburban development, or so it appears. I don't mean to knock it. I live in a suburban neighborhood myslef. It has nice homes with porches and attractive architectural details, but it is not new urban.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian PlanBoston's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    I looked through the housing choices in the various neighborhoods on the company's web site. I have to disagree with you when you term this a new urbanist style. These are fairly typical homes with front-loaded garages and nondescript styling. New urbanists will insist on minimizing the garage if not taking it completely off the street, on having dominant porches, and on adopting one or two recognizable architectural syles. That is only the housing. There are several other neighborhood elements required in new urbanism, and the builder's web site did not provide enough information to determine if these are provided.
    Agreed, this is not traditional neighborhood design. The builder's web site shows they are building the same junk tract housing as everyone else. There's nothing neo-traditional about the homes and I doubt there is anything substantial in the layout of the neighborhood.

    Furthermore, to compare the builder to Wal-Mart is scary. Any builder with such a distinction should not even attempt a New Urbanist project.

  7. #7
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    My college roommate bought into a CP Morgan subdivision....frankly, I thought it was the same ol' suburban development I saw everywhere else in the Indy suburbs. (He's since moved)

    Blech.

    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  8. #8
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mediagiant
    Why have traditional neighborhood developers so overtly shunned more affordable builders? Or is it the affordable builders who have shunned the high land costs in most TNDs? Is there a solution to this, or will only the people with BMWs have the option to walk to the grocery store?
    Good question. I wish I had an easy answer. While I agree with Cardinal that TND and typical New Urbanist typologies may be more expensive, this is largely due to the fact that they are relatively new and untested in the marketplace. Certainly they are associated with greater financial risk in the short run.

    However, here in Florida the market is currently hot for this type of product. Single family residential subdivisions all across the state have always been relatively densely built, with quarter-acre and less lot sizes relatively common. What successful TNDs have established is that new typologies- for instance rear loaded garages- have a market appeal because they improve neighborhood aesthetics and function without really no increase in density.

    it seems thoughk that only higher quality developers can produce such projects because its not your typical cookie-cutter subdivision. This may explain somewhat why these projects command higher prices. My feeling is that there is such an unmet demand in the marketplace for TNDs that they usually go to the highest bidder.

  9. #9
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    I clicked on the link, and no wonder I got such critical replies. It just directs you to the builder's main site instead of their specific neighborhoods. I compare C.P. Morgan to Wal-Mart because they both have lower prices as a result of high volume and ruthless efficiency.

    Although some of the homes in this neighborhood (those on the perimeter) have front-loaded garages, those in the interior (including mine) have rear-loaded garages accessed by alleys to create a TND feel. It's known as the Village Lane collection.

    C.P. Morgan usually builds typical suburban tract homes with front-loaded garages, but a couple of their neighborhoods are different...with a new urbanist feel. I suggest you revisit the Web site and look up the Marilyn Ridge, Heritage and Central Park neighborhoods. Here are a few snapshots I took of my future neighborhood, Marilyn Ridge.







    More photos of Marilyn Ridge (the model houses):

    http://www.cpmorgan.com/images/models_large/mr_1351.jpg
    http://www.cpmorgan.com/images/models_large/mr_2184.jpg
    http://www.cpmorgan.com/images/models_large/mr_1407.jpg
    http://www.cpmorgan.com/images/models_large/mr_1781.jpg
    Last edited by mediagiant; 10 Aug 2005 at 6:12 PM. Reason: triple reply

  10. #10
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mediagiant
    Can anyone explain what might have happened to my photos?
    Moderator note:
    Geocities does not allow hotlinking.....which is good for you, it would have earned you a 1 day suspension.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

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