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Naming the neighborhood

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Would you buy a home in a subdivision called Stormcloud Estates?

If you live in New Mexico, the name could have a certain resonance for residents who welcome nature’s wild cloud formations and the inevitable deluge. In the Pacific Northwest, though, it might be a constant reminder of the gray, rainy climate and a total downer. Stormcloud is described by builder DR Horton as a new master-planned community on Albuquerque’s West Side that is offering the first multigenerational floor plan in the area. “These separate living quarters have their own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, master bedroom, laundry and living areas, allowing privacy and unity to exist under the same roof,” the marketing materials say.

Boulders are a prominent feature at the entrance of aptly named The Boulders by Del Webb subdivision. (Courtesy of Pulte Homes)

The builder, who declined to be interviewed about the reason for the name choice, also incorporated a word that’s become popular in many U.S. housing communities: “estates.”

Developers in the region say the thought process that goes into naming (or renaming) a neighborhood, a new building or a subdivision is pivotal once the ideal site, nececessary financing and high-quality construction are in play.

The naming process can be both serious and fun, said Tim Brislin, who’s part of the development team behind the Mariposa master-planned community in Rio Rancho. He said a subdivision’s name can establish a tone and image for a community and might even affect sales.

Done right, picking the perfect name and marketing it successfully are a nice complement to the overall, and often complex, development process. “First and foremost, a great name doesn’t make up for a bad project,” said Brislin. “You still need a good land plan and infrastructure, nearby amenties and quality builder partners.

The name of Del Webb at Mirehaven is inspired by the Mirehaven arroyo, which runs through the site. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

“You just don’t want to mess up the easy stuff like the name.”

In general, names come from natural features, Brislin said. In New Mexico, a prominent feature like a river, canyon, vista or arroyo offer lots of inspiration when it comes to naming the neighborhoods and its streets, Brislin said.

Del Webb’s Mirehaven (pronounced meer-haven), for example, is named for an arroyo that runs through the site.

“It also rolls nicely off the tongue, and the ‘haven’ part has a nice connotation,” said Jolene Montoya, marketing manager for the New Mexico division of PulteGroup Inc., which plans to build over 500 homes in the senior community on the city’s West Side.

“It feels homey,” said Montoya, adding that a “brain trust” of company managers usually gathers in a brainstorming session to name new communities. The goal is to come up with something catchy, something the homebuilder hopes will be “inviting and appealing” to future buyers, Montoya said.

Some developers look to location to pick the name of a neighborhood, subdivision or building. The Carlisle condominiums in Nob Hill would be hard to miss. It sits at the corner of Central and Carlisle. (Courtesy of Kenny Hinkes)

Brislin, vice president for Mariposa East, an affiliate of Harvard Investments, said PulteGroup, with its Redondo at Mariposa community, joins several other production homebuilders “actively building on a variety of lot sizes and product types” within the community. They include Twilight Homes, Abrazo Homes, RayLee Homes and DR Horton.

“Six of seven of the communities play off the words vista, view and peak,” said Brislin. The Jemez Mountains loom large in the distance from the 1,600-acre Mariposa site.

Brislin, who works in the Phoenix and Albuquerque markets, says many subdivision names in the region take into consideration the Western ethos, with words such as “ranch,” “rancho” or “trails” in heavy rotation when a project is launched. Hence Taylor Ranch and Ventana Ranch. Or Rancho Sereno and Rancho Encantado del Sur.

Name changes often do wonders for a project. Harvard East acquired a platted community called Hillcrest in Phoenix, near the Salt River. “There was no hill and no crest, which had folks scratching their heads,” Brislin said. The company’s senior partners and its marketing representative and land planner eventually came up with the newly rechristened Verde Trails.

“The area is green and lush and close to walking trails, and we wanted to play that up,” Brislin saod.

And it was just a matter of time for the humble @ symbol to start showing up on local real estate.

Sidewalks are formed in front of D.R. Horton homes in the Peaks subdivision of the Mariposa development in Rio Rancho on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

For construction company owner and developer Zack Snyder and his business partners, use of the symbol is a signature look that began with the Village@La Orilla, a commercial center at Coors and La Orilla, just north of Montaño.

Now they’re back with @Rio, a jazzed-up renaming of the former Riverpointe Vistas, Snyder said. The development team weighed about 10 options and picked what it thinks is a winner.

“It has an attractive edge to it,” said Snyder of @Rio. “We believe the new name is a home run” in terms of future branding and tenant interest, he said. The nearly $50 million project in Bernalillo will include restaurants, retail, housing, a walkway looking out onto the Rio Grande, and recreational opportunities like canoeing or kayaking, Snyder said.

Because it’s a mixed-use project, “It’s a name that carries over to all the (development) categories,” he added.

You also can’t go wrong with using something as simple as a street name or an address, said Kenny Hinkes, the developer behind Nob Hill condo projects The Carlisle and One Ten Richmond.

“They’re like landmarks in the neighborhood. No one’s going to have have a hard time finding them,” Hinkes said of the 34-home condominium complex at Central and Carlisle in Nob Hill and the other at, of course, 110 Richmond SE.

“I like naming real estate with a location built into it,” Hinkes said. “It’s simple and elegant.” Hinkes also likes his real estate projects with the uppercase “The,” a trend he said is being used a lot nationwide.

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