According to Wikipedia, master-planned community is a "new town, planned community or planned city is a city, town, or community that was carefully planned from its inception and is typically constructed in a previously undeveloped area. This contrasts with settlements that evolve in a more ad hoc fashion." In the early history of the United States,"planned communities" were actually pretty common: St. Augustine, planned in 1565, Jamestown, New Haven, Philadelphia, Williamsburg, and Annapolis are examples of this trend. Washington, DC; Jackson, Mississippi; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; Salt Lake City, Utah; Tallahassee, Florida; and Austin, Texas are unusual, having been carved out of the wilderness to serve as capital cities.
But when we think of a "master-planned community", we typically think of a community that is located within a city or just outside the city limits. Master-Planned Communities, as we know then them today, actually have a very unique history in the United States housing market. The concept of a master-planned community can be traced back to the mid 1960s, in Arizona. Scottsdale, Arizona city planners worked with a Californian named Simon Eisner to develop a "master plan" for the city of Scottsdale. The first master-planned community was called "McCormick Ranch".
McCormick Ranch, in Scottsdale, Arizona, was truly the first master-planned community because not only did it includes include lots for building homes, it also included office parks, recreational parks, and commercial centers. The plans even included hotels in the community plans.
How do you know if you live in a truly "master-planned community" or you just live in a typical subdivision? Generally speaking, master-planned communities include a lot of extra amenities and conveniences, such as lakes, golf course, wineries, large parks with bike paths, jogging trails, and even community clubhouses with recreational facilities like pools and spas. If you live in a typical subdivision, then the recreational areas and the amenities offered will typically be smaller as compared to a master-planned community.
Subdivisions tend to be surrounded by general shopping, strip and/or commercial centers, but they are not part of the overall original plan for the subdivision. Builders who build subdivisions howe hope and assume that retail development and commercial development will come later on because many people live in the subdivision. But that does not always happens. In a master-planned community like the communities that Southstar Communities builds, all of the amenities are planned ahead of time and are included even before the first shovel is turned over in the development.
What do master-planned communities and subdivisions have in common? In many cases today, subdivisions are becoming larger and larger; so much so that oftentimes a few builders will get together and develop "sections" of a much larger master-planned community. The benefit of having several different developers working together is always apparent: there are typically lots of different building styles, lots of different lot sizes, floor plans, and even different landscaping styles. And there will typically be different priced homes built, from the huge mansion-style multi million dollarmillion-dollar homes down to the more typical home that would cost just over $100,000 or more. Furthermore each subdivision within the master-planned community might have its own building codes, conenantscovenants, and restrictions (typically called CC&Rs).