The planning process for every Newland Communities development begins with the same question, says Newland chief marketing officer Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki: "What makes this piece of land different from every other place?"
At Tehaleh, a new community outside Tacoma, Wash., the answer is as plain as the snow-covered flanks of Mount Rainier, which dominates the skyline. While disturbing the existing topography and standing timber as little as possible, the site plan was designed "to bring the mountain into the community—from the houses, roads, and trails," she says.
Newland's market research indicated a strong buyer preference for paths and flexible open spaces over golf courses and tot-lots, Slavik-Tsuyuki says, so the firm prioritized development of a trail network that provides both recreation and car-free links to shopping, school, and work. "And instead of a model house with a flag on it, our amenity for Phase One is our welcome center," she says. Located near the village elementary school and trail head and housing a locally owned cafe, it serves as a social hub for residents and a magnet for neighbors from the community beyond.
"It's an employment-based master plan," Slavik-Tsuyuki says, "so it will have a village center." The promise of a town-like feeling—plus an affordable mix of housing types starting at $255,000—has made it popular with young buyers priced out of the nearby Seattle market. "We're pulling 25 to 30 percent of our home shoppers in that millennial age range," Slavik-Tsuyuki says. "We're on track this year to sell 300 homes, about 10% of the new-home sales in the Seattle-Tacoma area."