News - Marketing the View: The Pinehills
As Steven Fischman of New England Development and Tony Green of the The Pinehills LLC described their joint venture in Plymouth to MIT students at the March session of the Real Deals series, marketing is at the heart of the venture. The property, 3000 acres 45 miles from Boston, was purchased for $10 million in 1994 by their third partner, developer Tom Wallace of Wallace Associates in Plymouth. It is the largest residential development in New England with almost 2900 units planned and some 100 under construction or occupied. It includes two of the most beautiful and most expensive to play, public golf courses in Massachusetts and plans for more golf courses, a conference center, and retail and office development. Two-thirds of the total acreage is reserved for open space, nature preserve and recreational uses.
While the pro-forma looks very strong today, there was plenty of risk at the start. The success of the development, as Fischman and Green tell it, depended on convincing Plymouth residents and town-meeting members to permit open zoning and blanket approvals for clustered housing. Basing the project design on extensive focus groups with empty nesters, their target market, they grouped the house sites along the ridge tops to take advantage of the sweeping views. Then they sponsored site visits for neighbors and Town Meeting members to help them visualize what would be created. To stimulate their imaginations, model homes were erected and the Summerhouse was built, a rambling New England-style frame structure with wide tin-roofed porches, featuring a huge stone fireplace and overstuffed chintz-covered sofas inside. One of the visiting officials mistook it for the restored manor house, to the satisfaction of the partners’ marketing strategist, Sandra Kulli who also participated the MIT session. Needless to say, the field trips worked and the new zoning was approved in 1999.
At this point in time, a number of residential builders have signed up to build out different neighborhoods in the community. Attached condominiums are being built, as well as single family homes at various price points and custom homes at the top end. Marriott will run the 250-room conference center resort near the commercial center where restaurants, shops, and a grocery store will be built. Steve Fischman is taking his time committing to an office tenant. The site is perfect for a corporate campus for the right client, he believes.