MUSTANG — Developer Robert Crout doesn't see trees and dirt as he walks through what will be the third phase of Sara Homestead addition at SW 59 and Sara Road.
“It's kind of weird,” he said. “I can see buildings on land. You know, like an artist can see their picture on a blank piece of canvas? I can see streets and things. That's why (the streets) aren't straight — in my mind, that's no fun.”
Crout is 2013 president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association. That developer's ability to look ahead long term, to envision what doesn't yet exist, could serve the group well.
“Our lead times are often three to five years out, so we're always having to look ahead and see where the market is going, try to hit a niche,” Crout said of land developers. “That far ahead, it oftentimes is a moving target.”
His predecessor as president, Kurt Dinnes, co-owner of Sun Custom Homes, said he's leaving the association in good hands.
“Robert is a fine man,” he said. “I couldn't have asked for a better first vice president and somebody to take over our association. I think Robert has strong leadership skills and will continue to take the baton and move it forward.”
Crout's niche is Mustang, and the neighborhoods he develops seem to nestle into the landscape instead of take it over. He and associate Tiffany Rowell walk through the mud and trees of the next section of Sara Homestead to get a feel for what stays and what needs to go.
“I'm a developer, but I try to really let the land tell me how it wants to be developed,” Crout said. “I try to be very conservation-minded, friendly to the environment. If we can transplant a tree rather than bulldozing it, then we certainly will.”
Crout also is selective about the builders who work with him. A sign near the entrance lists his preferred builders, though he is willing to work with anyone a buyer wants to bring in.
“They have to go through an application process, though,” he said.
For lots that require work such as leveling, Crout brings in a golf course shaper to do the work before the builder comes in to pour a slab. That isn't standard protocol. Builders normally bring in their own crews to prepare a lot, but they may not be well versed in the fine art of drainage.
“We need that drainage to be controlled in our drainage ways,” Crout said. “The golf course shaper, that's all he's thinking about.”