In 2011, Joshua Host and Brett Shaves teamed up to form Urban Village Development Company with one goal in mind: revolution. They call it the Live-Work-Play Revolution and are pushing for walkable communities throughout Southern California. Josh and Brett believe that holistic, transit-oriented, mixed-use development spells the end of suburban sprawl and the future of urban living. Their most recent project—Urban Village Long Beach—should be completed by 2013 and earn LEED Gold certification.
When we came together to found Urban Village Development, it was kismet. Our philosophy is ‘live-work-play,’ and our idea for that was based off of a cluster-city model involving innovative neighborhood concepts by making community resources for work, play, and leisure all within walking distance. Based on that vision, our markets are focused in downtown LA, Long Beach, and San Diego.
Two thousand ten was an interesting time in real estate. The market was dictating something different. We had an opportunity to create new space in some dense urban areas, and we’ve worked hard to build a lot of local relationships. For Urban Village Long Beach, for example, we worked with St. Mary—a hospital just across the street—to create a physician residency-housing program, eliminating residents’ daily commute. We are in discussion with Zipcar and will provide bike sharing to reduce resident dependency on automobiles.
We believe there is an art behind real estate development. Where you are should be a place you can call home, a place you can work, and a place you can play. But above all of that, we’re also interested in creating an experience. We spend a lot of time looking at how a person can gel in an environment. In Long Beach we worked with local artists and people behind the culture, and we put together a cool list of amenities: a gypsy den, ultra lounge, a 10,000-square-foot outdoor entertainment space with a DJ table, a pool, and a film festival area.
Joshua Host & Brett Shaves
Up Close and Personal
What was your first job?
Brett: Real estate acquisitions.
If you weren’t developers, what would you be?
Josh: Surf bum.
Brett: Iron Chef.
What inspires you?
Josh: Watching people grow.
Brett: My father.
Describe yourself in three words.
Josh: Passion and fortitude.
Brett: Faith, family, friends.
What is your hidden talent?
Josh: I’m good at misplacing things. If I could commercialize it, we’d be rich.
Brett: Yet to be seen.
We also teamed up with Jerome Chang of BLANKSPACES, who operates collaborative office spaces to encourage startups and freelancers. The development debuts a new model called the Urban Kitchen Concepts project, which works in the same way as BLANKSPACES, but to encourage new restaurant incubation.
From a sustainability standpoint, Urban Village Long Beach has a target of LEED Gold, and involves greywater systems, solar power, and new green space. The village is also located only a hundred feet from the Long Beach Blue Line, which delivers on our idea of transit-oriented development.
Our goal is to create more walkable environments. A lot of the communities have become so sprawled that some people are commuting well over two hours per day. The amount of land that has been gobbled up with backyards, driveways, and roadways just doesn’t make sense. These things take up space that could be much more appropriately utilized.
There is resurgence toward urbanization as people are able to see the value in urban living. A lot of formerly blighted urban cores have been getting re-energized, and the current city-planning environment is conducive to what we’re doing. There used to be a lot of push back, but at this point, we’re seeking out areas that have plans for our type of developments. Only one person challenged Urban Village Long Beach, but the planning commission gave us a unanimous vote, and we got through it in less than five months.
The key for us is understanding the culture of the area where the development is being built. We don’t want to deliver something that doesn’t meet the community’s needs. To do this, we continue working with like-minded companies to build out projects that deliver on the Live-Work-Play Revolution.