Move Over Mcmansions Suburbia Is Changing
Images of Loudoun County often portray young families in minivans driving to their large suburban homes west of the beltway. Over the past 20 years, Loudoun’s population has exploded, nearly tripling in size. The forecast for the 2020 census predicts that number will continue to rise, topping over 400,000 people within the next four years. As a result, the region will see an increase in the demand for new housing—all of those people are going to need somewhere to live. Donald Knutson of Knutson Companies has a few ideas about the future of Loudoun’s new homes, where “McMansion” may become a thing of the past.
Knutson started his company in 2012 after spending 25 years designing, developing, and building residential properties alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. His experience and an entrepreneurial spirit motivated him to start his own construction company, and Loudoun county is reaping the benefits.
The company, according to their website, “builds quality townhomes, condominiums, and mixed-use communities within walking distance of shopping, recreation, and entertainment.” Knutson’s focus is to build on a smaller scale—with an emphasis on quality. In fact, his current goal is to build 100 homes of superior quality each year. He’s not interested in mass-producing cookie-cutter models of little distinction or character. Instead, Knutson Companies is founded on three basic principles: be forthright with clients, share in their excitement about the development process, and build each community as if you were going to live there yourself.
These principles are evident in each of the company’s projects. Knutson homes have exceptional curb appeal, extreme attention to detail, and high-quality building materials—evidenced by very careful planning. If this sounds like a new look for Loudoun County, it is. Knutson believes the county is ready for something different.
Loudoun boasts a population well below the national average, a strong school system, and a low unemployment rate that continues to attract young families with room to grow. However, the county is also seeing an increase in current residents who are ready to downsize their homes. Knutson communities appeal to both sets of homebuyers due to the meaningful size of their build, low-maintenance design, and walkability.
Rooftop terraces and elevators are just two examples of the innovative architecture that won Knutson five awards at the recent American Living Awards in October 2016. While country clubs and suburban communities remain popular with many residents, some are looking for a more urban feel, where they’re able to live within walking distance of retail, restaurants, and services located in a town center.
The development movement, called New Urbanism, is sweeping the country, but Don Knutson has coined his own term: “Surban”—urban centers set in the suburbs. Crescent Place of Leesburg and Downtown Brambleton are two communities Knutson is building with this concept in mind.
The 12 acres of Crescent Place consist of 224 residences adjacent to the W&OD trail and within walking distance of the stylish boutiques and trendy eateries of downtown Leesburg’s historic cobbled streets. With 75 percent of the properties already sold, a second phase was recently approved for development. Leesburg hasn’t experienced this level of residential building in years, and the town is excited about the arrival of its new residents.
“KNUTSON BELIEVES THE COUNTY IS READY FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT.”
Downtown Brambleton in Ashburn includes 48 residences just steps from new restaurants, shops, and a movie theatre. A state-of-theart health club, running trails, and parks are enjoyed by the area’s residents as well. With the addition of the Silver Line metro coming to nearby Moorefield Station, downtown Brambleton will soon become more commuter friendly for those working in Washington DC and the surrounding suburbs, helping to alleviate traffic concerns and raising home values in the area.
Knutson is certainly doing his part to grow these communities. He believes in loving what you do and understands that, in the development world, everything takes longer than planned. His passion and patience for building gorgeous, functional communities are evident in his finished products. Building a home is personal and important, which is why Donald Knutson works hard to deliver something special to his buyers—and it shows.