“If you live in the suburban fringe or in a semi-rural area, chances are good that you are not far from a stream valley, wildflower meadow or patch of woods. Chances are also that many of these places will be unrecognizable 20 or 30 years from now, unless they are located in a public park, state forest or wildlife refuge, or unless they happen to be protected by conservation easements held by land trusts.
That is because most areas have adopted zoning and subdivision regulations whose principal purpose is to set rules for the orderly conversion of virtually all land…into developed properties. But that’s the nature of development, many would say. But is it? While the above scenario might seem to make short-term sense, over the long run, communities experience a relative decline in property values.
The planning technique described here does not involve reliance on public funding sources and disturbing landowner equity or the ability of developers to build at the overall legal density permitted by local zoning on their parcel…That they can do very well financially by doing good is one of the many benefits of this very sensible way of developing land.”
Benefits of Conservation Subdivisions: More Profitable
One of the Randall Arendt’s recent designs is credited by an Indiana developer as having added at least $20,000 of value to each of his lots, while still providing for full development density.
And by respecting natural terrain and designing around existing site features on an 80-lot development in Texas, the author cut his developer-client’s grading costs by 83 percent (from $300,000 to $50,000), compared with a conventionally engineered plan, and saved 23 of the 24 large, valuable trees that the engineer was planning to destroy.
In Tennessee, Randall Arendt’s redesign saved one developer $212,000 in street construction, while adding significantly more natural areas into the layout.
• Proven more profitable, less costly, and faster selling for developers and landowners.
• Homes sold on average for $17,000 (13%) more than homes in the conventional subdivision where lots were twice as large. From “Growing Greener”, by Randall Arendt.
• Lots carry a premium, are less expensive to build, and sell more quickly than lots in conventional subdivisions.
• Lots sold in about half the time as lots in conventional subdivisions, and at premiums ranging from $13,000 to $18,000 per acre over lots in conventional subdivisions.” From “The Economics of Conservation Subdivisions”
• Lots cost on average about $7,400 less to produce than lots in conventional subdivisions. From “The Economics of Conservation Subdivisions”
• Costs average 22% less than conventional developments. From Applied Ecological Services study.
• Greatly decreases expensive clear-cutting and stump removal costs.
• Saves a lot of money on site grading by not pushing dirt around on the entire parcel, or extending expensive streets and infrastructure over the entire site.
• More community support.
• Home buyers pay more for a park-like setting, privacy, great views and natural areas.
“Together, the results show that conservation subdivisions are more profitable to developers than conventional subdivisions.”
The Economics of Conservation Subdivisions (pdf)
“Leaving land in its natural state or building trails through it is cheaper than building infrastructure or golf courses.”
Big Builder Magazine