August 03, 2015

High-End Infill Development High on Trees

By Jane A. Donahoe
– Memphis Business Journal –

Transforming an equestrian based estate for infill development, Boyle Investment Co. is launching a new residential community in Germantown on 18.5 acres.

The gated community, called The Pinnacle of Germantown, is located in the middle of Germantown, along Old Dogwood Road south of Poplar.

It will be built as a “cluster-style development,” preserving the sites’ trees, natural terrain and natural waterways, says Doug Dickens, Boyle vice president.

About 90% of the site’s landscape will remain undisturbed. Less than 10% or 62 of the lot’s 627 primary and secondary trees will be removed to install roads and infrastructure.

“It’s a beautiful, pastoral looking place and what we’re trying to do is just take good care of it,” Dickens says. “The rural streetscape of Old Dogwood Road is just like you’re out in the country right in the middle of town.”

Boyle’s plans call for 16 lots measuring about 1 acre per lot. The development company has the land under contract for about $2.5 million, or roughly $140,000 per acre. The land is owned by the Taylor family of Germantown.

Boyle is not yet actively marketing lots for sale because development costs have not been tabulated. Dickens expects lots will sell in the $400,000 range.

Dickens says there has been hefty interest in the project’s lots, but no firm commitments have been finalized.

Boyle is developing the site along its natural topography, not seeking to flatten the character that is there, says Jerry Cook, city of Germantown’s director of development. The property’s main access point, on Dogwood, will remain as the residential community’s access point, which is another boon for development.

Cook describes The Pinnacle’s development pattern as “scattered,” and says the city is currently analyzing its zoning codes to establish infill residential guidelines. Most of the easier development sites are long gone in the high demand suburb, and Cook says future infill development will have to be creative to keep from leveling sites and extending existing grids and street networks.

A typical Germantown lot size is about 15,000 square feet on a 100-foot lot.

“If you extend the adjacent pattern of development, what you may wind up having to do is take down the trees and level it,” Cook says. “This particular type development has the characteristics we’re looking for in terms of how we do the infill pieces of property.”

Boyle, in a development partnership with Russell Kostka, is using land planning firm Dalhoff Thomas Daws and engineering firm Davis Engineering on the project. The Pinnacle of Germantown received Design Review Commission approval from Germantown on Tuesday.

Blair Parker, Dalhoff Thomas Daws landscape architect, says maintaining the project’s landscape is the main focus of the project. Germantown officials worked with the developers to get through the process, “that is typically environmentally unfriendly,” Parker says.

“Hopefully it will be a model for how property can be developed and how property should be developed,” he says.

Dalhoff Thomas Daws is working on two similar Germantown projects that are under way or in the planning stages. The Radford adjacent to The Pinnacle along its west boundary is being developed by David Halle. It comprises 16.43 acres and 17 home sites and is a similar “conservation plan” concept says Bob Dalhoff, principal. Some older features on The Radford property include brick walls, a well house and a cemetery where Germantown’s first doctor, Richard Martin, is buried.

The Nashoba Group is developing seven lots on 14 acres in the heart of Germantown, along Poplar near Kimbrough. That development will save more than 80% of the land’s existing trees and the developers are designing the sites in the same pattern, to maintain the land’s rolling topography.

“All three are conservation planning,” Dalhoff says, “doing the least amount of damage to the property and blending development in with its existing site characteristics.”

Open pasture areas will be where most of The Pinnacle’s lots are situated, letting the land dictate where to build. An old driveway will be used as the access road bed, and the street will be laid on the natural ground to deter interruption in underground water flow and to preserve trees.

“The trick of this deal is not us making a great place,” Dickens says. “This is a piece of property that we hope we can bring back to what it once was and maintain the great place in a way that will be reminiscent of the past.”