Family-owned real estate development company Fredericksburg Development purchased 242 acres of land in 2015 on a depleted orchard grove with a vision of developing the land into a family- and nature-oriented community in the heart of Texas Hill Country.
However, the 242 acre site featured several challenges before the vision could be fully realized – including topography, the desire for landscape perseveration and green space, as well as water limitations directly from the State of Texas. Being such an expansive project, the development also required coordination with multiple stakeholders – including the City of Fredericksburg, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and utilities – to meet an array of goals and requirements.
In partnering with SEH and multiple other solution providers, Fredericksburg Development was able to overcome each challenge, achieve its lofty goals (explored below), and come up with a site design, implementation plan and eventual development that has transformed the orchard grove into an award-winning, first-of-its kind community. The Friedën Development was selected as the first Texas community – and one of only 12 communities nationwide – to be included in Southern Living magazine’s (2.8 million circulation) list of prestigious Southern Living Inspired Communities.
The Friedën Development, when fully complete (currently in Phase 2 construction of 4 total phases), will comprise 230-250 single-family, custom-built farmhouse homes within a gated community. The development will offer 4+ miles of expansive walking trails, 3 spring-fed lakes, a 12 acre park, community pool, fitness center, a modern event space and even an outdoor sundeck for residents to watch the sunset over the lake.
Serving as lead civil designer and project administrator, SEH managed the project from concept to completion. Fredericksburg Development partnered with multiple consultants and contractors throughout the project, leaning on SEH and the team's expansive land development experience for oversight and coordination to ensure accountability among all partners, budget compliance and timelines being met.
Stakeholder coordination critical to project success
The expansive project required coordination with the City, TxDOT, a planning consultant, irrigation consultants, a local surveyor and landscape architect, an electrical engineer, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, several contractors and other parties.
As the vision for the Friedën Development took shape, SEH developed engineering site layouts and detailed exhibits to communicate cost implications to each partner during every step of design. This consistent communication and coordination helped the collective team create and buy-in to a united plan.
Perceived limitations create unique and innovative solutions
Texas requires communities to limit water use during the summer months, specifically with irrigation. It was also important to Fredericksburg Development that native plants be used throughout the development. The SEH team worked with the City to take their treated effluent water from the wastewater treatment plant and store it in one of the new stormwater ponds on-site.
This unique solution utilized this pond not only for stormwater management, but to serve as a 6 million gal. storage tank for the community to use for irrigation throughout the summer months.
Sanitary sewer was also a challenge. The City was concerned that servicing the new development would cause too much demand for their existing lift station. In response, the SEH team conducted and presented a strategic analysis that showed the City how the development plan would be phased in a way that enabled the City to utilize the system without impact until the Friedën Development began generating revenue that would pay for this improvement down the road.
Related: 10 Rules of Successful Land Development Design
Preserving the natural landscape and character of the community
The SEH team was tasked with keeping three natural, spring-fed lakes as focal points of the community’s amenities, preserving as many of the 200-year-old Heritage Oak trees as possible, and working with curvilinear street design. With these priorities in mind, the team designed the community’s infrastructure and roads to be connected by a network of trails winding through the natural landscape and existing trees. Uniquely, 40% of the total acreage has been reserved for open green space.
Consistent presence throughout the project
Much of the SEH design team was based in the company’s St. Cloud, Minnesota office with additional resources pulled from the company’s other 32 locations. However, the SEH project manager and key technical staff set up a satellite office on-site in Texas to ensure proactive, consistent communication and accountability in every phase. This presence ensured a smooth development and helped spark new ideas throughout the design process.
For example, as the development design came together, the SEH team recognized an opportunity to repurpose an old brewery in the southwest corner of the property into a new medical facility. What started as a discussion over lunch resulted in SEH bringing resources and connections directly to the developer to make this portion of the project happen.
Fredericksburg Development has completed Phase 1 of the Friedën Development and is in the midst of Phase 2. As new homes are built and the community grows, the project team has economic development plans for outside of the community’s gates – including a commercial center with restaurants, retail and hospitality, and a central Friedën town center.
City of Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg Development, Inc.
- 40% of 242 acre site developed into green space to maintain natural landscape
- Custom-built modern farmhouse homes
- Homes positioned to ensure privacy and scenic views
- 4+ miles of expansive walking trails
- 3 spring-fed lakes
- 12 acre park
- Community pool and fitness center
- Preserved 200-year-old Heritage Oak trees throughout site
- 6 million gal. stormwater lake stores effluent water on-site
- Collaboration with multiple firms, agencies and stakeholders created schedule/cost efficiencies
- Overall project management
- Civil engineering
- Construction administration
- Site design
- Site grading
- Structural engineering
- Stormwater modeling
- Stakeholder engagement
- Environmental compliance and permitting
- Traffic engineering and planning
- Water resources engineering