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Houston Business Journal Article Features Friendswood Development Company Leadership

Houston Business Journal Article Features Friendswood Development Company Leadership

One of Houston's oldest developers has promoted three of its own to grow the company as competition to find developable land for new projects continues to mount.

John Hammond, president of Houston-based Friendswood Development Co., a division of Miami-based Lennar Corp. (NYSE LEN), has become division president for Lennar and Village Builders as well, managing the homebuilding activity for all three brands. Hammond replaces former division president Don Luke, who retired. Friendswood was founded in 1962. In Houston, Lennar ranked second for new home starts between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, according to data from the housing research firm Metrostudy.

Friendswood also created two new vice president positions, promoting former senior acquisitions manager Michael Johnson to vice president of the company and Sawyer Blackburn, also a former senior acquisitions manager, to vice president of acquisitions. Their positions have not yet been replaced.

Houston ranks as the second busiest housing market in the nation by new home starts, which can make the hunt for developable land more challenging.

“No doubt, the market is very challenging,” Blackburn said. That shortage of “quality land in the path of growth” close to desired school districts means new suburban land hauls likely hover around 200 acres now, rather than the 1,000-plus acre developments of the past.

In August, Friendswood and Atlanta-based Pulte Homes announced a new 175-acre community called Katy Crossing, near the intersection of Katy Hockley and Beckendorff Road.

The next month, Lennar got approval from the city’s planning commission to move ahead with plans for a 55-acre subdivision northwest of Cypress, beyond the Grand Parkway near Hockley, Texas.

The tract sits next to land owned by the Harris County Flood Control District, close to a tributary of Little Cypress Creek, with a portion of the 55 acres within the 500-year floodplain. The developer is doing some prep work on the site and coordinating with the flood control district, Blackburn said. Homes in the unnamed subdivision will target entry-level buyers.  

Along with those suburban projects, Lennar has launched in-town communities over the past few years, most recently a few in the northwest area near Garden Oaks. About five months after debuting the Neumann Oaks townhome community in Garden Oaks, Lennar announced another 18-townhome enclave on 1.6 acres, Chapel Heights.

Rather than connecting the two communities via walkway, the company plans to buy small parcels of land for individual townhome enclaves instead of adding phases to existing developments, Johnson told HBJ in September.

Blackburn also expects future in-town communities to stick to about two acres in size. Land prices, along with availability, make it more difficult to carry those costs for larger acreage in town, he said.

In Houston, Lennar homes start in the $170,000s and go up to the $400,000s while Village Builders homes start in the $250,000s and go up to the $600,000s, according to a company press release.

Source: October 15, 2018 Houston Business Journal

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