Then in the course of the brainstorming exercise, Chris hit upon “kind of a eureka moment,” Steven recalled. The idea was to reverse the lot layout directly above the second knob of rock in that section of the development. This allowed the lots to stair-step with the grade so that each lot could handle a portion of the grade, rather than supporting a long row of lots with tall rear retaining walls. The new plan allowed Newland to keep full connectivity, raise street profiles, maintain the lot count and preserve usable backyard space. “We added a new perpendicular street to the rock area and utilized rear-loaded alley units that could step down the slope side to side to allow the connecting roads to be higher,” Chris explained. Once the changes were approved by regulators, construction cost was reduced by $1.2 million, due to the reduction in rock removal.
“It sounds simple, and the change in and of itself was nothing revolutionary; it was more like turning the sheet and looking at it from a different perspective. It was a small change from an engineering, two-dimensional perspective, but it had a huge impact on the viability of the project,” said Steven. “Kudos to the McKim & Creed team for their time, effort and willingness to entertain some harebrained ideas.”