One of the keys to smart development is ensuring harmony between buildings and the natural environment surrounding them. The conservation neighborhoods being created by Bielinski Homes are at the forefront of such development and likely will serve as national models of environmentally conscious building.
In conservation neighborhoods, 50% of each housing site is left undeveloped, and native plant communities are restored to the site to clean and absorb run-off. Bielinski is developing three conservation neighborhoods – Prairie Glen in Germantown, Willowbrook in Oak Creek and Auburn Hills in Caledonia.
The firm works with Applied Environmental Sciences in Germantown, which in 1998 received a $350,000 grant from the Great Lakes Protection Fund to monitor quantity and quality of run-off in Bielinski subdivisions.
"The results will be disseminated across the country," said Jack Broughton, Bielinski’s director of marketing. "There’s real science here. The buildings are designed in harmony with the environment, not fighting it."
Conservation neighborhoods feature natural amenities such as common open space and parks, wetlands, woodlands, natural plant landscaping and walking paths. To comply with conservation neighborhood guidelines, Bielinski has introduced its Hickory Lane Collection of homes, which are built specifically for the narrower lots used in conservation neighborhoods.
For its other subdivisions, this year Bielinski added five new designs known as the Park Avenue series. Park Avenue homes feature a minimum of 2,500 square feet and amenities such as coffered ceilings, crown molding, French doors, fireplaces, three-car garages, four bedrooms and luxury master bathrooms.
"We’re constantly adding new designs based on what our customers tell us they want," said Angela Cooper, marketing manager.
The conservation neighborhoods, which are some of Bielinski’s most specialized developments, posed one of the greatest challenges to the company, Broughton said. The zoning and planning approval processes are different from what most municipal committees are used to and, therefore, require more explanation. But once committees are educated and understand the value of such neighborhoods, they quickly approve of them, he said.
"We believe in the concept and put the time and money into educating committees on it," Cooper said.
If there is one principle that drives Bielinski Homes, it is to provide affordable high-quality homes for customers at all stages of home buying.
"We want to give all our customers their dream home, from the first-time home buyer to the move-up buyer," Cooper said. "We have some customers who are on their third Bielinski home."
Company name: Bielinski Homes
Location: N16 W23377 Stone Ridge Dr., Waukesha
Year established: 1960
Type of business: Home builder, Realtor, land developer
Main products/services: Residential single-family homes and condominiums, neighborhood developer
Number of employees: 94 full-time, 3 part-time
Business words of wisdom: "Stay on the cutting edge of new technology and new developments. The world is dynamic; it’s always changing. If you’re satisfied with the status quo, you won’t progress."
June 27, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee