July 16, 2015

Boyle’s Pinnacle Project A Break From Suburban Infill Development Pattern

By K. Denise Jennings
– Memphis Business Journal –

Rolling land with mature trees and streams are not features you often see in urban infill developments, but a new development in the heart of Germantown is hoping to turn the tide.

The Pinnacle of Germantown, a new residential project for Boyle Investment Co., is striving to be a signature infill development which respects the natural elements of this one time family farm.

At the intersection of Dogwood and Poplar, the 18.5-acre Taylor property had a main home, a barn, two to three other outhouses and horse pastures. Mature trees and streams that ran along with interspersed clearings where the original structures and pastures had been were a perfect fit for what Boyle had in mind, says Doug Dickens, vice president of special residential projects.

A stone knee was along the property line and neighborhood entrance. A narrow road on the existing grade winds through the natural topography. Stone bridges built over existing streams and expanded ponds hold rainwater, and the drainage plan uses the natural property grade without disturbing the terrain or mature trees. These aesthetic elements took months of meticulous planning on the part of Boyle, the developer; landscape designers Dalhoff Thomas Daws; Davis Engineering, the engineering design firm; and the city of Germantown.

All of that doesn’t come cheap. “I would say we spent two to three times more doing it the way we did it,” Dickens says.

When complete, The Pinnacle will have 16 houses, each on 1 1/2-acre lots which are selling in the $400,000 range. Lot owners have an approved list of architects and builders to choose from, and homes are required to be at least 4,000 heated square feet, but not over 6,500 square feet. Dickens expects the homes to be worth an average of $1.6 million-$2 million.

“Timeless, traditional architecture that will stand the test of time,” is how Dickens describes the expected style of the homes. “These are houses that people will want to spend the rest of their lives in,” he says.

Even though Boyle was willing to spend the money to ensure its vision, engineering that vision was challenging and time-consuming. The most challenging aspect was attempting to build an environmentally sensitive project and save trees while working around current town regulations and building guidelines, says Blair Parker, landscape architect with Dalhoff Thomas Daws.

In the effort to save mature trees and preserve the original topography, issues like drainage, fire department regulations and curb and gutter requirements had to be hammered out between the developer and Germantown.

“(This project) doesn’t fit the mold for design guidelines that are out there and it took some flexibility on (Germantown’s) part,” says Mark Davis of Davis Engineering.

Boring deep to create an underground sewer system and avoid trenching helped save trees and avoid grading. Details such as required road width had to be agreed upon. The developers wanted a narrow, rural type road running through the property, but settled on a 24-foot width, down from the normally required 30-foot road.

Germantown is catching on that regulations for infill development need more flexibility, says Josh Whitehead, Germantown’s planning director.

“If we want to continue to grow our tax base and population, we need to be a little more innovative,” he says.

Whitehead believes The Pinnacle could become the next Shady Grove or Cherry Circle and thus says the project is “aptly named.”

As for the high-end Pinnacle prices, Dickens and Whitehead both say business is brisk.

“Less than half of American neighborhoods are built to last and I think it’s all in the design,” Whitehead says. “If you spend that extra time in design, you’re already ahead of the game.”