WHEN MACK BISSETTE PURCHASED 150 vacant lots in the Springfield section of downtown Jacksonville, Fla., last year, the builder hoped to not only sell homes but to revive the once-arresting neighborhood. Part of that effort includes supporting a fledgling artist community by featuring works of art in his model home.
“I directed the interior designers to include local businesses in the model whenever they could,” says Bissette, CEO of SRG Homes & Neighborhoods, an infill builder in Atlanta and Jacksonville. “The artwork really pulled the merchandising together. It would not have been as creative without it.” The pieces, donated by nine local artists, hang in nearly every room of the 2,300-square-foot, Craftsman-style house—one of seven, two-story floor plans that replicates the area's historic homes and structures.
Bissette credits the artwork and the publicity it's brought for attracting additional (and nontraditional) buyers to the model and the project and encouraging area Realtors and buyers to venture into Springfield. “Sales traffic is exceeding our expectations, and we're experiencing a high capture rate,” he says, noting an average of 20-plus visitors a week and contracts on the first 11 houses he's started as part of an initial release of 22 homes.
“People are intrigued by the artwork, so [prospects] stay longer and ask questions,” adds local sales agent Sam Morgan. Local artists display their work for free (similar to a gallery) with every piece, its price, and its artist listed in a book available at the model. Bissette plans to keep the model open—and swap out artwork as it sells—for two years as part of a planned three- to five-year build-out schedule.
Campaign Details Builder/Developer: SRG Homes & Neighborhoods, Jacksonville, Fla.; Cost: None (artwork on loan); Marketing/Advertising agency: Clockwork Marketing Services, Jacksonville; Sales agency: Lifestyles Realtors, Jacksonville
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Jacksonville, FL.