Land Innovations raises the bar when it comes to developing one-of-a-kind communities that embrace the land.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers
Land Innovations sees each new development as a blank canvas, drawing inspiration from the land and positioning its communities within the natural beauty and habitat. “We see our goal as much like an assignment to go create something special,” Chief Manager Dudley Smith says. “We are very sensitive to the environment and work creatively to craft a community that is not only unique, but that inspires creativity from the architecture of the homes to the preservation of the trees and natural topography. Our communities have a soul with the purpose of connecting people to each other and to their natural surroundings.”
Land Innovations is a Brentwood, Tenn.-based company and is an affiliate of CPS Land LLC, which was founded more than 20 years ago by Smith and Allen Patton. This past year, both Frank Horton and Rob Pease joined the CPS Land team as partners and will be joining Land Innovations as partners later this year.
Both companies work within the greater middle Tennessee marketplace, playing slightly different roles. Land Innovations is engaged as a creative design and development manager of legacy projects for landowners that would prefer to help participate in the process of developing their own land rather than selling it to others. CPS Land serves as a well-seasoned, veteran team with the goals of acquiring land, raising investor capital, obtaining entitlements and fully developing the raw land into a finished product.
Several CPS projects are some of the most successful residential communities in the Southeast, including Providence in Mt. Juliet with 3,400 residential home sites and Annandale in Brentwood, a luxury home community containing 189 home sites. Just this past year, CPS Land joint ventured with local custom homebuilder Mike Ford to create a 152-site luxury home community called Witherspoon in Brentwood Tenn.
Collectively the team works for both the CPS Land and Land Innovations companies. Dudley Smith started the Land Innovations initiative in 2010 out of necessity. “We could not accept the thought of losing another key team member to the worst real estate debacle in over 60 years,” says Smith. “The real estate crash had already ravished over half of our team. There was virtually no money available to start new development projects or to even complete existing projects. Survival was not a fun word to use, but today when we look back that is exactly what it was.”
Land Innovations’ clients typically consist of high net worth property owners who allow the team the freedom to depart from traditional development rules to cultivate something beyond the status quo. “Most builders, as well as development projects, have to report to shareholders and generally a bank officer who require traditional and methodical approaches to minimize risk. To break away from the mold, we need a very creative land contract or a patient owner whose values are not only measured by the annual internal rate of return. They are willing to see the long game and believe with time and a lot of hard work something of more value can actually be created,” says Smith.
The Land Innovations team has built a reputation of creating communities that don’t fit the status quo. “The land selects us,” Smith says. “When someone wants something extra special, that’s when we get the call. The landowners that we work with always have a special connection to their land. It’s an emotional investment as much as a financial investment.”
Finding Your Place
Você is Land Innovations’ newest residential neighborhood off Nashville’s prestigious Granny White Pike. It retains and embraces the natural beauty of the land while promoting a meaningful connectivity among residents to the outdoors and to one another. “It is something people have never seen before in Nashville and in response they are willing to pay 15 to 20 percent more for this experience than something else down the street or across town,” Smith says.
“Você has created a new market that raises the bar and has created its own momentum,” he adds. “It has taken some time but now buyers and appraisers are understanding the unique nature and value of Você. Because of that, we are selling homes in the $335 to $400 per square foot range while other luxury homes in the area are selling for less.”
Você means, “voice” in Italian, and Smith says the property owner felt the connection between the land and finding your own voice there. The Você community sits on 61 acres and was the home place of country music icon Eddy Arnold until 2008. “For Arnold, the property served as a sanctuary, a home for his family and a place to recharge and refuel creatively,” says Shannon Pollard, Arnold’s grandson.
In keeping with his wishes, Shannon and the Você team are committed to saving as many trees as possible and preserving the natural beauty and historic character of the property. Land Innovations drove a plan to preserve in excess of 60 percent of the land at Você.
Nashville developer John Rochford is purchasing 930 acres surrounded by the Natchez Trace Parkway from the Stephens Trust and has partnered with Land Innovations to develop the property over the next two decades. The master-planned Stephens Valley community will include approximately 1,100 homes, resort-style amenities, and its own town village featuring a boutique hotel, retail shops, offices and restaurants.
Approximately 550 acres of the property will be protected open space for the use and enjoyment of the community,” Horton says. “It’s adjacent to a national park, so we will have connections from the park to the community. Stephens Valley will be another one-of-a-kind legacy project.”
Stephens Valley is located approximately 30 minutes from downtown Nashville and surrounded by 19 hills as well as the Natchez Trace Parkway. “If you can, imagine the charm of a small town community basically surrounded by a federal park that has that casual comfortable friendly hometown feel. Our vision consists of classic architecture, front porches, multiple internal parks, walkability, and a small town village at the core of the community.”
Land Innovations and the Rochford team will break ground on Stephens Valley in March. “The goal is not to develop as quickly as possible, but instead to raise value and cultivate the character of the community over time,” Smith says. “As with all of their projects, the Land Innovations goal at Stephens Valley is to honor the land and create a lasting legacy for all who choose to call it ‘home.’”