A new take on a classic home model—a ranch—will get a tryout in the nation's capital region late this year or early 2016.
The home design's footprint and its bones cast a spell of both intrigue and familiarity—a covered outdoor sanctuary merges an open great room and kitchen in an adrenaline sweep of form and function, directed outward to Northern Virginia's rolling farmlands and forests. A single-bay garage sits diagonally to a separate, main two-bay garage fed by the same driveway; their catty-corner juxtaposition creates a courtyard. It's without question a ranch. But it strays edgily progressive in a market that's only now beginning to press the indoor/outdoor buttons that work to so compelling an effect among discretionary home buyers in the West and Southeast right now.
This is just what Winchester Homes president Alan Shapiro could hope for, and has wanted for some time, especially to electrify a product line he expects to make hay in Willowsford, a farm-to-table master planned community located outside Washington, D.C., near Virginia's Dulles International Airport.
This is happening only because stars aligned in a way they can at a company that works differently than most home building enterprises with multiregional footprints. A few months after TRI Pointe Group closed at the end of June 2014 its $2.8 billion acquisition from Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co. (WRECO) of Winchester and its four sibling home building operations—Maracay Homes in the Arizona market; Pardee Homes in Southern California and Nevada; Quadrant Homes in the Puget Sound market; and Trendmaker Homes in Texas' hyperactive markets—Shapiro and his fellow unit chiefs met for 2015 planning. It was their first deep-dive gathering as business colleagues and partners in Southern California, near TRI Pointe's Irvine headquarters.
"We were in need of a ranch, and we tended toward developing a new one from scratch for Willowsford with our own design team," says Shapiro, whose career started at Georgia Pacific almost 30 years ago before he migrated, first to Ryan Homes, and ultimately, to Winchester's ranks for the past 17 years. He hopped from purchasing, sales, and operations jobs to an opportunity as vice president of operations under then-Winchester president Larry Burrows, whose ascent to the top job at WRECO in 2008 gave Shapiro his shot at succeeding Burrows as the division president.
"But, I thought, ‘Hey, why don't I talk with the guys in the other TRI Pointe regions?' I'd heard they'd been doing some great work, and took a look at some of their plans," Shapiro recalls. "Matt Osborn [division president of TRI Pointe's Colorado unit] told me about this ranch that was going great at Candelas in Arvada, Co., in the Denver market."
The good news for Shapiro was that the Colorado models, like the ones in the D.C. region—and unlike many of the slab-on-grade models typical of California, Nevada, and Texas markets—had basements. It was love at first sight for Shapiro when he saw the Encore Collection ranch, with its indoor/outdoor byplay, and its ability to adapt its wraparound extra-bay garage into a living area, and elevate the entire structure to two stories. The working title for the Winchester project—likely pricing in the $500s to mid-$600s and currently making its way through Willowsford guidelines and local permitting—is the Woodley ranch, named after the architect of the original Colorado model, Michael Woodley of Woodley Architectural Group, with offices in Southern California and Denver.
"It's an exciting plan, and working with Matt on it was a win-win because, apart from seeing a home design that we think will work for our market, we got to add another new architect, Mike Woodley, into our fold," Shapiro says.
It's a house, yes—a new model some may characterize as bold and fresh for a market whose staid hardwiring is practically a given. But the house itself is a mere speck of a minuscule detail within the complex that is TRI Pointe's $2.8 billion empire. It's the way it came to be, and the way it will go to market that makes this the story it is—a logical progression of vision, deal-making, integration, and execution. As the threads of each weave together, the Woodley ranch for the Northern Virginia/Maryland market is a single outcome of what will be tens of thousands of outcomes, each a byproduct of both a grand bold vision and a local, profoundly workman-like execution, knitted together by trust.