Robert (Bob) McLeod is chairman and CEO of privately held Newland Communities, the country's largest master planned community developer. The San Diego-based company has created 60 communities and other development projects in 14 states. A graduate of the University of California–Berkeley, he is an ardent student of U.S. and European history. He and his wife, Nancy, live in Del Mar, Calif., and have three grown children. They play host to ski vacations in Vail, Colo., each year, and McLeod also enjoys hiking and body surfing. BIG BUILDER spoke with him in May.
BB: You talk of a positive environment for Newland's planned community development over at least the next two decades. What's the key to that optimism?
RM: [Most important,] continued job growth in major markets, [and] I think that the changing needs of the consumer are something a master planned community can provide: sustainability, connectivity of jobs, schools, parks.
BB: How many Newland projects are on the drawing boards at the moment?
BB: During your days at UC-Berkeley, did you picture yourself as a community master planner?
RM: No. I came up in the environment that you graduated from college, and you went on to a Forbes 50 company. In fact, I did that, but I had no idea I would end up as a real estate developer.
BB: When you look at one of your communities 10 years later, what tells you it's a success?
RM: It's apparent if the continuing structure of that community looks like our dream, or our vision still continues 10 or 12 years [after] we walk out of it [such as] “Mountain Park Ranch,” in Phoenix. We started in '82, sold out in '92. We went back 12 years later. The whole [desert] landscaping program, [with] drip irrigation systems, looked absolutely beautiful. Kids are playing soccer, and mothers are taking their babies along the walkways. We said, “Wow, you know, this thing worked.”
BB: As Newland broadens the scope of its activities, will that include home building?