Industry Pulse

Must-Sees from the Top 50 MPCs


Special thank you to NHTI intern Angelica Cruz for co-authoring this article.

It’s the list you’ve all been waiting for: The 2023 Top 50 Master-Planned Communities, a list that John Burns Research & Consulting has been tracking for over a decade. Sales are the end goal, but let’s reflect on the detailed planning that attracts home buyers in the first place. 

Here are three communities from our 2023 Top 50 MPCs list (that are also featured on our DesignLens database because of their creativity):

  1. Harvest by Hillwood Communities
  2. Sterling Ranch by Sterling Ranch Development Company
  3. Meridiana by Rise Communities

1. A tiny town for Harvest’s tiny residents

Ranking #44 with 391 net sales, the Harvest Master Plan is the ultimate family dream hangout. Out of a long list of charming amenities, their newest addition, The The Harvest Mini Town Park, might just take the cake amongst the kids.

Inspired by imaginative storytelling, this mini-town features four open-air play homes, each with its own unique theme.

  1. The Farmhouse is a miniature version of the community’s iconic Farmhouse coffee shop, with tables and chairs for aspiring baristas.
  2. The grocery store is stocked with play produce that little shoppers can check out at the register.
  3. The bank holds a real, old-timey safe from New York. But beware, little residents, because if you rob the bank, you might just end up in…
  4. Jail, which is decked out with a sheriff’s badge, red bandanas and hats, wanted posters, and, of course, jail cells. One cell even tells the story of a prisoner who was able to strongarm the jail bars open and zipline out for a fast escape.

In many cases, a playground is a playground, but creative play like this offers endless scenarios for kids to explore and create unforgettable memories. A piece of advice from the developer: make sure everything is indestructible because the kids have put this mini town to use!

To learn more, read the full DesignLens feature (NHTI members) or visit the Harvest website.

2. Sterling Ranch makes it rain (then harvests it)

Ranking #39 with 432 net sales, Sterling Ranch will provide over 12,000 homes across 3,400 acres upon completion. With a lot of land comes a lot of responsibility: Through extensive research and planning, the developer has built a legacy around innovation and sustainability. 

Sterling Ranch takes pride in being Colorado’s first and only rainwater harvesting pilot site. How does it work? The Dominion Water Sanitation District uses diversion structures to collect rainwater in a small pond, where it can then be sourced for outdoor, non-potable use (in other words, you won’t be using it to fill your Stanley cup). While most homes in Douglas County use 0.75-acre feet of water per year, homes in Sterling Ranch use less than 0.25-acre feet of renewable water. 

Siemens-powered dual-water meter systems allow homeowners to monitor water usage and adjust their habits accordingly. To take it to the next level, Sterling Ranch teamed up with the Denver Botanic Gardens to design a lush community landscape of drought-resistant plants and grasses and work with residents to personalize their own water-conscious landscape plan. This innovative approach empowers residents to actively participate in water conservation and helps buffer their rainy-day savings.

To learn more, read the full DesignLens feature (NHTI members) or visit the Sterling Ranch website.

3. All aboard the Meridiana Ambassador’s Yacht


Ranking #32 with 497 net sales, Meridiana is a master plan that brings paradise to its Texan residents all week long. The main attraction, Oasis Village, is like an amenity island with two pools, a restaurant, an amphitheater, a welcome center, and more, surrounded by a little lake. And when you’ve got water, it only makes sense to have a boat, too.

The Ambassador’s yacht is a stationary boat that invites residents to enjoy an evening cocktail with family or friends. But don’t end the fun there! Meridiana residents can have an overnight getaway in the comfort of their community. Aboard the vessel are three beds, a common area, a kitchenette, and sliding glass doors that open to a dock seating area.

We will be featuring Meridiana on DesignLens in February, so stay tuned! In the meantime, learn more about the community on their website.

• Honorable Mention •
Heard of farm-to-table? How about front-yard-to-table?

This new community is not yet on the Top 50 MPCs list but deserves an honorable mention. 

Perfect for outdoor lifestyle enthusiasts, Fox Point Farms in Encinitas takes agrihoods to the next level with edible landscaping. In the active playground of this SoCal city, where surfing, golfing, and leisurely strolls dominate, residents crave not just fun but also a nutritious diet to pair with their adventure. Imagine taking a stroll and snagging your own pick-me-up snack right off the citrus and nut-tree-lined trails or preparing home-cooked meals from the community gardens and 5.5-acre working farm.

Fox Point Farms is setting the standard for a simple and sustainable lifestyle.

For more great SoCal finds, follow our local JBREC experts, Scott Wild and Peter Dennehy

In 2024 and beyond, developers should stretch their imaginations past the standard amenities and find ways to enrich living experiences, whether through children’s amenities dedicated to creative play, innovative infrastructure that supports the environment while cutting costs, or community getaways that turn a typical day into an adventure.

To learn what other master plans are doing to add more life into their communities, check out our 2023 Top 50 MPCs list or contact JBREC’s master plan expert, Ken Perlman.

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