It was a dream come true for three adjoining landowners. They had the patience and wisdom to see that the sum would be greater than the parts. And that by joining forces, they knew they could create something unique in Howard County.
"None of us could have done something of this magnitude on our own," admitted Dr. Bruce Taylor, on the concept behind Waverly Woods, a 680-acre planned community.
"Three families put their heads and land together to create a development that benefits the whole community in a careful, thoughtful way," he said.
Taylor, along with Kennard Warfield and John Gudelsky. make up the partnership of GTW Joint Venture. They believe that by bringing together their families' land they can create a planned community along the lines of the visionary planning advocated by James Rouse.
Waverly Woods, at the intersection of Interstate 70 and Marriottsville Road, involves a 20-year, mixed-use development plan for 285 acres, with 395 acres of open space centered around an 18-hole championship golf course.
The community had its grand opening in September and features single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums from four builders -- Chateau, NV Homes, Patriot Homes and SHC at Waverly Woods. What gives Waverly Woods its uniqueness is the basic premise of building a community where residents can walk from home to work; from home to the store; from home to the park.
"We don't know of a community that's ever been built in Howard County that has less of a reliance on the automobile," added Gudelsky, whose parcel makes up 150 acres of the total.
It will be a self-contained community with employment centers, a village center with shopping facilities and large-scale recreational amenities such as tennis and swimming.
The goal of quality -- especially the concern for preserving the site's open space -- is extremely important to Warfield, whose family has been farming in Maryland for 200 years.
Warfield contributed 360 acres. Taylor brought in his 170 acres, which his family originally purchased in the mid-1960s.
The Waverly Mansion, formerly part of the John Eager Howard estate, is on the parcel that Taylor's family originally bought. The buildings, which now belong to the county, will be surrounded by a buffer of landscaping and the site's stand of trees and will be incorporated into the project's open space plan.
Joseph Rutter, director of planning for Howard County, has been impressed by the Waverly Woods concept.
"It's a good design with super amenities, but most important is the staging of the various parts. There are no surprises," Rutter said. Since 1993, Howard County has had a mixed-use district similar to the concept of Waverly Woods'. The Rouse Company is planning development at Interstate 95 and Route 216 that will fall into that zoning category.
It was Don Reuwer of Land Design and Development in Columbia who brought the three families together in the early 1980s. Reuwer, who taught history for eight years before entering real estate development, said he has created a niche by working with landowners who wanted to retain control of the development of their land instead of just selling it off.
"The three families didn't want piecemeal development," Reuwer said. "Together we came up with a comprehensive plan."
And the fact that all three families held the land debt-free aided in the planning of the development.
"Too many times, a developer purchases raw land with borrowed money and is under intense pressure to develop the land as quickly and as intensively as possible," Gudelsky said. "In the case of our families, the land has been held debt-free for decades, enabling us to develop it ourselves at a slower pace with a greater emphasis on architectural quality and sensitivity to the environment."
Fred Jarvis, president of LDR, was the project's site planner responsible for working with Reuwer and the partners on the 20-year master plan. Influenced by Rouse, Jarvis said the basic idea was to create a pedestrian-oriented community.
"We wanted to create a village center that's internal to the community as opposed to a strip mall."
The first four employment centers are planned to be up by the year 2000. Jarvis said the office buildings will be on the corner of Interstate 70 and Marriottsville Road for high visibility. All the employment centers will look over the golf course and open space. A parcel west of Marriottsville Road has been earmarked for a corporate campus.
It took the three families nearly 15 years to design the plan for Waverly and 18 months to get the necessary regulatory and zoning approvals to proceed.
And again, the debt-free status of the properties helped in the approvals process.
"Most landowners could not have withstood the economic hardship that this extensive process involved," said Gudelsky, who added that much of their time was spent on educating the public and county officials on their idea.