IRVINE, CALIFORNIA – Tom Martin, Vice President of Planning and Product Development and Jann Rowe, Vice President of Marketing for FivePoint came together at the ULI OC/IE’s Leaders & Managers Program to discuss and share the strategies that drove the creation of Great Parks Neighborhoods. The theme of their presentation was “The Sum of the Parks Makes For A Great Whole.” They were speaking of the 2,100-acre master-planned community on Irvine Boulevard, adjacent to Irvine’s Great Park.
Organized and led by John Martin of Martin & Associates, the evening began with introductions and personal insights of his son Tom Martin, stating that he is a leader with a passion for business, creativity, and great planning and product design. He described the younger Mr. Martin as visionary and strategic in his place-making capabilities. He also introduced Jann Rowe, praising her abilities to manage and direct the massive marketing program that will focus squarely on the vision, the plan and the key connectivity of each unique community. According to FivePoint, it is “a holistic mix of residential, commercial, educational and recreational facilities.”
Tom Martin launched the evening by talking about “the manifesto” for Five Point, which included a mandate to be different for a reason. He referenced the outstanding way in which The Irvine Company does what it does, but said it set a formulaic precedent that continues today. Great Park brings together the old and the new. That includes the use of heritage trees in landscaping, and creating neighborhoods that feel like they’ve been there for a long time. The trees existed on the property and were preserved in tubs for future use. They will be redistributed in key areas throughout the neighborhoods over time. He also spoke of their study of the value ratio for integrated development to determine appropriate products, amenities and niches for retail and services. Their guide was “what people currently desire in a community” and how it departs from past development principles.
Mr. Martin spoke in depth of developing connectivity of the neighborhoods that aim to provide an intimate perspective, thinking about what people want in their daily environment, such as unique parks. Examples include the Earth Park and Air Park where natural landmarks become recreational attractions by using creativity to reinterpret them. Pocket parks, walking connectivity and other unique aspects of the neighborhoods were discussed, as well. He presented the OC Great Park video as an example of FivePoint’s personal perspective of its unique brand.
The video underscores a vision of creating a completely connected plan that serves as a platform for Southern Californians to come and establish the character of the region within this environment. It is a game changer in terms of its long view, and the scope of its development, which includes major venues such as a soccer stadium, high tech headquarters, and a network of amenities that bring people together to enjoy all aspects of their lives. The goal is to offer a place that will tell the California story over the next five decades.
Mr. Martin discussed segmentation that included product, price and lifestyle. Schools are a big positive for homebuyers and the impressive new Beacon Park K-8 School has spurred sales of attached product in Beacon Park. The school is comprehensive in its facilities, including a full-court gymnasium, fitness lab, dedicated music and science classrooms, and day care center.
In speaking of FivePoint, Mr. Martin described the company as being “all about going beyond the commitment.” Building connections, seeing the product in an emotional way – the public’s perception – and hoping to shape the Southern California story over the coming decades. Reminded of the magnitude of the opportunity FivePoint operates consistently on its word: Delivered as Promised.
Jann Rowe continued the Great Parks Neighborhoods story speaking about the far-sighted scope of the consumer experience. A former art history major in college, and a long time veteran of the community development industry, Ms. Rowe pointed out how elements of the consumer experience are strategically programmed to support the overarching goal of connectivity that will continue throughout the development of the neighborhoods. Early examples of the long term marketing plan include tying community themes and experiences from park to park along the innovative “T”, a walking and biking trail system. Since each neighborhood has a somewhat distinctive look and feel, the connections between them become active explorations, and extensions of ones’ own area into another.
The creation of the landmark pedestrian bridge is another distinctive component that underscores and facilitates connectivity. The iconic 282-foot bike and pedestrian bridge links the neighborhoods to each other and the Orange County Great Park. Since it links neighborhoods and amenities, the bridge becomes an intrinsic element in the overall lifestyle of the community.
Shifting to branding, Ms. Rowe talked about great brands that have created memorable identity and created brand loyalty with a simple brand mark, such as VW and Target. The Orange Bike that brands the FivePoint master-planned community was selected because of its universality, and its message of a healthy lifestyle, connectivity and a happy outlook. Upon close of escrow, each household receives a bike at a cost to the developer of approximately $450, but a great reinforcement of the brand. This marketing method dovetails with the theme of active, pedestrian and bike friendly planning.
She discussed the visitor experience in depth, beginning with creating an environment where people pay attention to what is around them. Bringing visitors to such places as the new Parasol Park Living Room is a strongly experiential method of marketing. Events held at The Living Room, a new outdoor space designed for gatherings was the focal point of Parasol Park’s recent opening and builder fair. It is such a uniquely inviting place that residents from surrounding neighborhoods felt welcome to come and experience what’s new in the larger community. Social media is a great tool for driving people to parks and social programming is essential to supporting the authenticity of the brand. Inclusion of both buyers and residents is the key to event success, melding the experience of newcomers with those who already live in the Great Park Neighborhoods of Beacon Park and Pavilion Park.
The overall marketing strategy was to focus on “HAPPINESS,” Ms. Rowe explained and referred again to social programming and the creation of “legacy events,” which are now attended by 40% of the homeowners in the community. These include creative events such as Friday Night Happenings, with music, artists, food trucks, beer and wine gardens and attractions that move the crowd from place to place in the parks. The average cost of these events is $20,000.
Ms. Rowe came up with the Pumpkin Glow event that took place in the Great Parks Neighborhoods, breaking the Guinness Book record for largest number of lighted pumpkins in a continuous row, with over 10,000 people attending the 3-hour event. This is a now a legacy event that has been given to the Home Owner’s Association.
Sharestream is an Airstream® trailer customized as a mobile information center for use at openings and events that appeal to target markets. It’s an ideal form of outreach for the community, and offers broad exposure for the brand. Ms. Rowe hopes to be able to take the Sharestream to the 2017 Huntington Beach US Open Surfing Event as a representation of how the Great Parks Neighborhoods blend old and new traditions into the community experience, and take an active role in the Southern California lifestyle.
In summing up the presentation, Ms. Rowe spoke of the team behind the marketing, and the shared ethos of always listening, encouraging consultants to talk with each other to invent new ways to authenticate the brand position, such as using kids’ artwork as a fence wrap. Behind the Great Park Neighborhoods brand is a strong message of hospitality and connectivity and a desire to continually keep the doors open to visitors and help them experience the community first hand and frequently. As the Great Park Neighborhoods continue to flourish, the FivePoint aim of changing the way Southern California lives through innovative and enduring new development is well on its way.