I subscribe to the theory that you can't gimmick something to success.
Another theory: advertising does not work.
A third: marketing is value built right in. As a user or consumer, you see it: you want it.
I think Gold Hill Mesa is presently an overpriced neighborhood. The reason is that they have a hard sell and I am forced to think about them in conventional real estate terms... No D12 or D20, but D11, soils that freak out REALTORS probably effects future resale values, one of the major backers of the area went Chapter 11 in 2008. I can prattle on with bigger deficiencies in Wolf Ranch, Flying Horse and even to a degree Cordera, but my point is this: in it's present state of development, I am forced to think of it in conventional real estate terms. Conventional real estate thinking is usually fear-based thinking, the kind of thinking that discourages action rather than encourages action. Conventional real estate thinking removes objections to present the most unobjectionable product possible.
As a consumer, I ask: what was the last product you bought because it was so unobjectionable? Life insurance?
As a marketer, I know you are "selling" in the contemporary sense of the word when the consumer takes voluntary actions towards the product. When the consumer makes a conscious, proactive decision FOR the product... something is about to happen that is big.
I would want to buy in Gold Hill Mesa (in present market dollars) if they accepted my proposal I just sent off to them.
In fact, I bet real estate values would double in three years in a FLAT MARKET in the 1 mile radius of Gold Camp Road and 21st if this project took off. If you are a believer that Walkscore is flipping brilliant (I said flipping, so yes, I think it is brilliant), imagine the walk score for a neighborhood:
- 1 mile from downtown
- newly constructed with parks and open space inside it
- walkable to a grocery and pharmacy. Now make that grocery store Trader Joe's
- walkable to an outdoor performing arts venue
- a bike ride to clean-flowing water with catchable trout
- and across the street from the mother-of-all El Paso County open space parks, Bear Creek Park
Seth Godin said six years ago, and I'm paraphrasing Purple Cow here, but we have so little time and so much competing for our attention... we simply want something that works and fits the bill, perfectly. That is what will the consumer will buy.
Residential development often avoids this thinking, and instead dumps a set of market-tested mixed stew into a product and then hopes to find a price point that lures activity. I'm exagerrating for dramatic effect of course. But I don't think the reality is too far removed from the hyperbole.
Gold Hill Mesa has struggled like all local residential developments. But I think their geographic location is positively magic. They have a hurdle to overcome which is the mine tailings processed on that site 100 years ago. Interestingly, the only transaction I have sold in there was purchased by a Chemical Engineer and Chemical Weapons specialist with extensive geologic training from the US Army. In other words, I'm exposed as the liberal arts doofus I really am when I'm around this client. If anyone should apply conventional real estate thinking to their decision, it is this client. He moved towards the product. He checked it out and thought the soils on the mesa was the most comprehensively analyzed and action-assessed dirt in El Paso County. He bought there without hesitation.
Imagine if instead of being perceived as a deficiency to the area... that same dirt was seen as a value built right in.
Here is my letter sent to Gold Hill Mesa today.
There is this big swath of land owned by a developer called Gold Hill Mesa that runs north from Gold Camp Road along the east side of 21st to Highway 24… largely undeveloped. Disturbing that soil will have negative implications for Fountain Creek.
But what if…
A 1500 to 2500 seat performing arts venue was a part of that?
Part of the soils work was sponsored and organized by Trout Unlimited and Dave Leinweber with Angler’s Covey?
The retail anchor was Trader Joe’s?
The developer's political connections convinced local legislators to meet with their friends in the State Congress to repeal Colorado Blue Laws making Denver an attractive warehousing operation for Trader Joe’s and helping facilitate the expansion of the franchise throuhgout the state?
People of all political persuasions, arts focus, development focus, recreational focus, etc. created a world-class development that was not just housing, but immediate recreation, instant access to arts, anchored by a national franchise brand that is the “un-franchise” of franchises?
What if that was in Colorado Springs?
Could a developer and residential development actually create a landscape where Colorado Springs moves from a position of second city, to unique innovator in the economic growth and expansion of the State of Colorado?
Just because they built a high-quality performing arts venue, allowed the trout nuts to help with the dirt work, and brought a high-value brand grocery store to Colorado?
The World Arena cost $48 million 11 years ago. It was 100% privately financed.
What do you think the value of Gold Hill Mesa would be relative to an infill in Lakewood like Belmar? I think I would much rather live in Gold Hill Mesa than Bel Mar. Or Stapleton.
Imagine taking in a summer evening concert with a national recording act, looking north at Garden of the Gods and Northeast to the city lights. Beyond that, thunderstorms light the sky over Black Forest.