The Dream of a Lifestyle: Marketing Master Planned Communities in America

Private master planned communities have become a dominant model of urbanization in the United States. Following earlier examples of privately developed New Towns (such as Reston, Virginia and Columbia, Maryland), the model of the master planned community proliferated during the real-estate boom of the late 1980s. Communities developed during this time were characterized by a carefully packaged set of amenities, a tightly controlled mix of uses and housing typologies (within a neotraditional design framework), highly specific and elaborate covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and-most of all-thorough marketing.

To understand the current state of privately developed planned communities in the US, Interboro collected (or requested) marketing brochures of every master planned community built or planned in the United States between 2006 and 2008. A first cursory analysis of this rich reservoir suggests an astonishing diversification since the 1980s of both “product lines” and the marketing strategies. In a more through analysis of both the marketing material and the real places, Interboro wants to understand the current mechanisms of access and control (for example the use of “exclusionary amenities” such as golf courses, polo fields, landing strips, churches or mosques) along with the de facto loss of control introduced by the recent foreclosure crisis.

 

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