The Lanwin Group
The Lanwin Group celebrates its 40th anniversary, attributing its success to building outside of the box.
By Kat Zeman, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
Phil Evans is an old-fashioned guy with modern ideas. He believes that a handshake seals the deal and that promises matter. “In our day and age, even when we shake hands, we still need two pounds of paper for contracts,” he says. “But I think if you shake someone’s hand, it’s a deal.”
At the same time, he believes in innovative ideas and isn’t afraid to enter new territory or introduce unique designs when it comes to construction. As founder and managing partner of The Lanwin Group, Evans pushes his company to build outside of the box.
“We are not a cookie-cutter builder,” he says. “We like doing different things, facing challenges and coming up with creative ideas. We always ask ourselves, ‘How can we do it better?’”
Cornwall, N.Y.-based Lanwin Group, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is a privately-held real estate development, construction, investment and advisory services company. It has experience in planning investment opportunities and developing real estate for residential and mixed-use projects.
Lanwin is organized as a group of companies that have varying levels of expertise in the areas of real estate investment and bank advisory services, land assemblage, bid sales, municipal approvals, real estate management, sales and marketing, construction and project management.
The company is closely affiliated with Olympia Development Companies, Club Specialists International and Meridian Property Services. In New York, it builds under the name Lanwin Olympia. Aside from Cornwall, it has an office in Hopewell, N.J.
Outside the Box
One of Lanwin Group’s earliest projects was a ground-breaking subdivision in West Windsor, N.J. Although built in the 1980s, it’s a perfect example of how the company brought a novel idea to a community that was initially resistant to change. In the end, Evans says even the local mayor called him to thank him for a unique addition to his community.
But it stated as an uphill battle. The planned unit development Lanwin Group proposed was outside of the cookie-cutter subdivisions that peppered the region. “This type of development is common in other parts of the country like Florida, Arizona and Texas,” Evans says. “But it’s not very common in the Northeast. We had to get like 25 to 30 zoning variances for it.”
To this day, Princeton Oaks, a 255-unit single-family subdivision, is still a unique development for the area. What makes it different from the carbon-copy developments in the region is its free-flowing design. It groups housing, recreation and landscape designs all within one contained subdivision.
“We built a ‘spine road,’ a type of boulevard with a median strip with landscaping in the middle that goes through the development,” Evans says.
The spine road does not connect to residential driveways but to a number of smaller streets that lead into seven clusters of village-like pods that each contains 30 to 35 homes.
“Then we took those pods and connected them with a walkway and a bike path to allow for kids to move about safely without crossing the major street,” Evans says. “In the center of the development we put a recreation area with basketball and tennis courts. It’s definitely not a cookie-cutter neighborhood.”
The entrance to the subdivision is a wooden area studded with beach trees. The Lanwin Group is a big fan of adding landscaping whenever possible and maintaining a property’s natural beauty.
Sense of Community
Forest Ridge, a 48-unit subdivision in a highly sought-after location in Newburgh, N.Y., is nearly complete. The subdivision, which still has 10 units to sell and develop, is located a short distance from quaint shops, restaurants, trails and parks and features majestic views of the Hudson River.
“It has a beautiful dual entrance with shrubs down the center and the views are very nice,” Evans says. “You can pick from 10 floor plans with a variety of elevations. Each floor plan has at least three elevations.”
Although the development is known for smartly designed homes with essential conveniences, its most unique feature is the standard of community living it offers its inhabitants.
“It’s its own little community,” Evans says. “We host block parties and we invite neighbors to get together to create a community atmosphere. You don’t get that in most places. This is a nice place to live, as opposed to just being just a house.”
With a background as a Wall Street and real estate executive, Evans founded Lanwin Group in 1978 with investors from Hong Kong and the Philippines. The company prides itself on integrity, expertise, innovation and a visionary leadership that has fostered successful relationships with well-respected builders, developers, banks and financial institutions nationwide.
“We always find a way to make things a little different,” Evans says. “We have a different philosophy than most. It’s our niche.”
The Lanwin Group has experience in land acquisitions, property syndications for development and income and equity appreciation. It often assists banks and financial institutions in doing a complete analysis of their residential REO portfolios. The company has the ability to develop, build or package properties for sale for the lender.