THE BUILDING WHERE COSTA Pacific Communities had its offices until recently offers a big clue as to how its CEO, Rudy Kadlub, works. “Nondescript” would be a charitable way to describe the low-slung, '60s-era brick structure that was once the administration building for the Dammasch State Hospital in Wilsonville, Ore., just south of Portland. Closed down in 1995, it's now the site of Villebois, an ambitious, transitoriented master planned community developed by Costa Pacific. Its name is French for “village by the woods.” The former hospital grounds make up close to 200 acres of the site; another 300 were acquired by state and local authorities.

Kadlub wanted to show Wilsonville officials that his company, which also developed Orenco Station, a pioneering transit-oriented development in Hillsboro, Ore., meant business. He didn't need fancy Portland digs to get the job of turning a site with significant stormwater issues into a new community. The former college football coach would rather be on site, smack-dab in the middle of the backhoes, even if that meant well-worn linoleum floors and bleak, elementary school–like hallways. (Kadlub and his company would eventually move out of the former administration building to make way for the project's town center.)

“We'd be in a meeting at Villebois, talking about something—say moving trees—and someone would say, ‘Let's just go out and take a look,' ” says Lee Iverson, principal of Iverson Architects in Newport Beach, Calif., and a member of a team of consultants that has worked with Kadlub for more than 20 years. “We worked directly with the city, close enough that there were design meetings held at Villebois with city staff. We did the same thing at Orenco Station. The city of Wilsonville and Costa Pacific were joint applicants when the master plan applications for Villebois went in. We were literally included on the same team.”

STRONG TRACK RECORD Teamwork is a theme that comes up repeatedly with the 57-year-old Kadlub, whose first job out of college was coaching football at the University of California at Davis (coaching stints in Colorado and Idaho followed). His company was one of the smallest to respond to the RFQ that the state of Oregon and the city of Wilsonville put out for the project in 2000.

“I firmly believe we were awarded [the master plan contract] for Villebois based on what we had accomplished at Orenco Station,” says Kadlub. “By law, this property had to be a compact urban village for it to be developed. That was part of the requirements for the sale of this excess land. Wilsonville controlled the entitlements and was part of the selection process.”

The desire to have a compact urban village, with access to light rail, wasn't a pie-in-the-sky dream of smart growth–minded officials. There just aren't enough homes in Wilsonville for those who work in this robust region (Nike, SYSCO Food Services, and Xerox are all large employers), which makes for a nightmare commute. Currently, there are 10,000 more jobs in the city than workers. Villebois will eventually increase the area's population by an estimated 7,000 residents.

“More and more people spending more and more time in their automobiles putting more and more pollutants in the air is an unsustainable model,” says Kadlub. “We want to create communities that rely on alternative modes of transportation—transit, bicycles, pedestrians—that put jobs and housing close together, and that offer education and daily services so that when people do come home they don't have to get in their car to get a quart of milk. At Orenco Station, people told us that their lives were happier, healthier, and more social for living there. It became sort of an epiphany for me, and we said, ‘If we have the ability to create places where people's lives are happier, healthier, and more social, than why in the world would we ever do anything else?' ”

A COMPLETE COMMUNITY So far, the first of three single-family neighborhoods is going up at Villebois. The mix of architectural styles—French Revival, colonial-inspired American Classic, English Revival, and American Modern—reflect the established architecture of many of Oregon's pre–World War II neighborhoods. Work is also under way on the 48-acre town center, which will offer townhomes, loft-style condominiums, and rental apartments, as well as retail and commercial space.

A state-of-the-art rainwater management system is being put in place to help address a significant stormwater-runoff problem that began when the hospital was built in the late '50s.

“When the state built here, they dried up some wetlands and piped everything into a stormwater pipe that became a seasonal creek,” says Kadlub. “Now it's become a big gully. We're working with the Army Corps of Engineers to reinstitute the historic wetlands and reduce the flow into this legacy creek, which will stop the erosion.” Villebois' street grid system has also been designed so that it follows the sheet flow of water, with streets designed to act as dams to slow the movement of water toward the open space. Porous pavers also help filter large amounts of water.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, OR.