Embrace the History

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Earl LaFave, president and co-owner of Beck Development, wanted to play up the industrial history of the reclaimed sand and gravel quarry he restored to create the Hidden Lake community.

October 01, 2002
Sell

Accentuate the Landscape

Incorporate Another Brand

Earl LaFave, president and co-owner of Beck Development, wanted to play up the industrial history of the reclaimed sand and gravel quarry he restored to create the Hidden Lake community. In creating the 1/3-mile-long entryway, he merged the past and present by using waterworks and a post-and-beam gatehouse. The effect is modern grandeur with Old World feeling. LaFave designed the entrance to have aesthetic charm and psychological impact that resonate with home buyers.

 

"The entranceway is attractive for the person who's coming here for the first time, but for the resident who drives back and forth all the time, it becomes old hat," says LaFave. "The landscaping and the sound created by the moving water have a calming effect on the subconscious, and as residents drive in, they are soothed."



Halfway through the development schedule, all 100 homes built in Hidden Lake's first phase have been sold except models and spec homes. LaFave is confident, through direct feedback from buyers, that some homeowners bought "just because of the entranceway."

Buoying the Buyer

To further enhance the industrial history of Beck Development's Hidden Lake community, president/CEO Earl LaFave fashioned its sales center after a dredge that was left behind on the quarry.

"We bought the dredge, which floated on huge 90-foot-long pontoons, with the property, and we wanted to introduce that element into the development," says LaFave. "Our replicated sales center gives the illusion of a floating dredge moored to the shore. Just like in Disney World or Las Vegas, illusions are important in creating your experience."

Serving as the anchor of the $3.5 million community center (which features an authentically duplicated Michigan lighthouse; a 70-slip marina; a re-created Caribbean beach with concession area and cabana; a special-events area; and an amphitheater that seats 700-800 people), the sales center directs attention to Hidden Lake's focal point: its 110-acre lake. In addition, the sales center and all the other buildings in the community center feature metal siding and roofs to complement the industrial look and feel.

"Many times developments promise a lot but deliver very little," says LaFave. "When you make an investment of this magnitude, it sends a message that the developer is willing to make the investment upfront in the quality, success and long-term viability of the development. The quality and the level of investment remove the uncertainty from potential buyers and assure them."

Community Profile

Community: Hidden Lake, Brighton, Mich.

Developer: Beck Development

Branding Elements: 5-acre waterfront entrance featuring a gatehouse, reflective ponds and waterfalls

Cost: $500,000 for gatehouse, $2 million for entire entrance

Formula: Integrate the land's history into the development's style and story

Comments on: "Embrace the History"

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