Mike Jones is a Louisville native who graduated from Trinity High School and the University of Kentucky before spending the better part of two decades working on residential projects in Jefferson and Oldham Counties. He has been with Signature Green Properties, a local firm specializing in landscape architecture and amenity design, for over nine years.
Magnolia Place, Mike’s first community, was in Oldham County, where he raised his children and had a tree farm. From there, he went on to do Artisan Park, The Villages of Ballard Glen, and Celebration Park. To the public, it may seem like developments go up quickly, but for the developers themselves, it’s a ton of back-end work with local, state and national agencies from the Division of Water and the Department of Transportation to planning and zoning boards. Some communities, Mike says, take three years of planning before a single lot is dug.
“We have three pillars in our strategic plan for every development we look at,” Mike explains, referencing the “signature look” associated with Signature Green Properties communities. He describes the pillars of good residential development as follows:
1. The developer must be a good steward of the earth.
Ecologically sensitive areas should not be developed, Mike explains – these could be “steep slopes, areas where waterways are, forested areas, areas where there are large heritage trees, areas that might never be the same if they were developed, or could cause problems downstream or below us due to erosion or what not if they were developed.” He adds that “the land will tell us where to put roads.”
2. The developer must do everything possible to protect the buyers’ investments.
For example, privacy is a big concern that can be addressed through proper land development and building. Developers can hold builders to certain covenants or building standards that will assure buyers a return on their investments for years to come. Some local developments mandate that builders use geothermal power, for instance.
3. The developer must take steps to enhance community.
He explains: “In our neighborhoods you’ll see very simple things like we focus on sidewalks and paths and nature trails and places where people can meet, open space areas that are maybe not ecologically sensitive, but rather are located in a nexus, in an area where people might congregate and be able to talk.” Sitting areas, clubhouses, pools, man-made lakes, playgrounds and walking trails are all examples of community-oriented design seen in the best residential developments today. One of the best examples of community-minded development in the country is right here in Louisville in Norton Commons, he adds.
You can listen to the full episode on the LSIR website.
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