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Homebuilder Panel Touts Green Spaces, Trails

The BIA's Development Trends Conference for the Southern California chapter discussed nascent housing markets in the area, most notably the rise in student housing needs for California State University Fullerton, which has "grown from no occupancy needs to 20,000 students looking for a bed," said Randal Jackson, ASLA. The school's latest student housing complex earned LEED Platinum status in March 2012.

The March 13 meeting of the Building Industry Association's (BIA) Orange County chapter in Costa Mesa, Calif., featured discussion and dissection of the possibilities and trends affecting the state's homebuilders market.

The panel discussion of industry leaders had an optimistic view of the local market's future. "This year there will be profit again," said Brooks Street managing director Rich Knowland, addressing the sluggish recovery that has plagued the construction and homebuilding industry both locally and nationally since the recession.

The panel's moderator, DC&E Principal Randal Jackson, ASLA, discussed the evolution and importance of green spaces and pedestrian improvements within communities, and how they can improve a homebuilder's ability to generate interest in new residential spaces.

"Agriculture is the new golf course," Jackson said, in a discussion of trails and park projects added in northern California and Washington State. "People today will come see what the trails are like before they go see what the houses are like."

Keynote speaker Larry Webb, partner and CEO of The New Home Company, was similarly optimistic. "I think we in Orange County are on the verge of a boom," Webb said, pointing toward the influx of foreign investment in local land by mostly Asian-based buyers with good credit. "The world is not the same as it was six or seven years ago," he added, "and it's not going back to the way it was."

Other panel members discussed ideas and recent projects that had found success and inspired excitement from the community, including a sprawling social media "event" created by Newland Communities vice president and chief marketing officer Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki that culminated in giving away a new home to a participating family.

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August 20, 2019, 10:02 am PDT

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