Former Home Builder Turns His Hand to the Land

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Joe Duckworth, Professional Builder's 1992 Builder of the Year, is now a successful developer of walkable neighborhoods that outsell conventional projects.

October 01, 2009


Joe Duckworth of Arcadia

Land Co. wants to correct

the undersupply of walkable

neighborhoods in the

Philadelphia housing market.

Joe Duckworth was named Professional Builder's Builder of the Year in 1992, when he was CEO of Realen Homes, a Philadelphia-area builder. Now he's a partner in Arcadia Land Co., Haverford, Pa., along with Robert Davis, the visionary developer of Seaside, Fla., and Chris Leinberger, who among other things is a Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Duckworth's son, Jason, is president of Arcadia.

Professional Builder: When and why did you step down as CEO of Realen Homes?

Joe Duckworth: I got bored with another opening of another project and operating a home-building company. I decided that I much preferred the higher risk-reward, creative side of land development. So in 1998, I set up Arcadia Land Co. with Robert [Davis] and Chris [Leinberger], who had been on my board at Realen.

PB: What does Arcadia bring to the housing market?

Duckworth: We're a small niche company that currently has a couple of traditional neighborhood developments under construction. TNDs are undersupplied in the Philadelphia market. Our projects perform better than conventional [developments] because they're differentiated, and differentiated well.

PB: What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Duckworth: I love working with Jason every day and watching him learn and grow. And Robert and Chris are not only my partners but have also become my dear friends.

PB: How has your life changed since you left Realen?

Duckworth: It's much more balanced. I take a fair bit of time off; I've been on five not-for-profit boards in the Philadelphia area in the last few years and continue to serve on a couple of them; and I've maintained an active leadership role in the development/building business, without it being a consuming passion as it was for me earlier in life.

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