By BUILDER Magazine Staff. The 152-acre rivermark in santa clara, Calif., is part of a 225-acre master plan campus anchored by Sun Microsystems. The community's grand opening on June 29, 2002, was a two-day, fun-filled event with an on-site budget of $150,000. Food included products from vendors scheduled to open stores in the then-uncompleted Rivermark Village.

The party started around noon on both Saturday and Sunday and lasted until 6 p.m. each day with a full schedule: included were a steel-drum band, a salsa concert, a NASA space exhibit, and activities geared for children, such as clowns and magic shows. "Expected turnout for the weekend was 3,000, with planning for 5,000 to 7,500, just in case," says Marcia Neese-Ooley, director of account services for Gauger + Santy, the San Francisco-based agency that orchestrated the grand opening. Some 10,000 people attended the event, causing organizers to scramble for extras ("a nice problem to have," Neese-Ooley says).

The event included a raffle for a variety of prizes. Two local Santa Clara charities received a total of $12,000 from raffle proceeds: Mission City Community--(which writes grants for worthy causes) and Center for Living with Dying (which is a support system for terminal patients and their families).

Organizers felt the need for a grand event even though they knew there was pent-up demand for close-in new housing. They were competing with a growing number of online listings. Plus, the dot-com had burst, raising worries about big layoffs and job uncertainty that might dampen interest in homeownership. Total traffic was 47,556 people over the next two months. Sales have been 8.3 a week, well exceeding local competition.

Flocking to fun: More than three times the number of people expected showed up for the grand-opening celebration of Rivermark, an infill community in Santa Clara, Calif.

Campaign Details

Program: Grand-opening event; Builder/Developer: Rivermark Partners (a partnership among Centex, Lennar, and Shea) Santa Clara, Calif.; Price: $500,000 to $800,000-plus; Ad agency: Gauger + Santy, San Francisco