Note: This is an article of an ongoing series of Feature Projects where we highlight the story of some of the most interesting completed projects in our Portfolio. But whereas the Portfolio itself tends to showcase the final results, here additional context adds insights into the Design and Construction phases. The idea is similar to a Behind-the-Scenes look at the production of a movie or television show.
January 2023 Saint-Barthélemy — La Baie Aux Fleurs is an excellent example of the value in hiring an architect even if the plan is to not build the project. In this case, La Baie Aux Fleurs began with a parcel of raw land: large and full of natural beauty but remote and at the edge of the zone of permissible building. Of course, land in St Barts located in the natural zone without the possibility of receiving a Building Permit is much less valuable than land in buildable zones where one can build their dream home.
A relatively small portion of the La Baie Aux Fleurs property was permissible for the construction of a villa. The owners of the property were ready to put the land up for sale but also wanted to include a Building Permit to ensure that a sale would receive maximum value and satisfy their asking price. Consequently, the architecture design had two primary goals:
1- Gain a Building Permit to increase value for sale of property
2- Assist in the marketing & sale of the property by illustrating for a new owner the building potential of the property.
Although it was possible that a new owner might build the villa as designed, it was also understood that a new owner would likely have their own design program and relationships with architects. There was no guarantee that the project would be built as designed.
While adhering closely to the strict zoning regulations regarding size, height and style, the design challenge was to create an impressively luxurious villa that might catch the eye while generating discussion and desire. With a focus on quality over quantity, features included a waterfall and double height living room with grand staircase while carefully terracing into the hillside to enhance the visual integration. The local governing Collectivité found the design acceptable within the strictures of the regulations and issued the Building Permit.
With the Building Permit goal accomplished, Bureau Xavier David continued to assist the land owners with their efforts to market the property for sale and achieve that important second goal. Firstly, a series of renderings was created to help illustrate the architectural potential of the property. And naturally the real estate agencies utilized the renderings in addition to some site photos on their websites.
However, there were some limitations with the presentation of the La Baie Aux Fleurs property on the typical website of a real estate agency. Beginning with photos that often included some of the least appealing aspects of the property (such as the initial construction excavation seen in the images below). Moreover, with dozens of listings including many very handsome villas, it was clear that the real estate agencies were treating an empty piece of land for sale as a lesser priority—at least in their online website presentation.
Consequently, Bureau Xavier David helped the land owner to create a custom website at labaieauxfleurs.com to feature the full potential of the property. Architectural renderings illustrated the proposed villa. Photography focused on highlighting the many appealing aspects of the property that were neglected in the real estate agency presentation. Exotic natural rock formations, sunset views, local birds and—most importantly—the flowering frangipani (plumeria alba) that inspired the name of La Baie Aux Fleurs (the Bay of Flowers) in the first place, all contributed to paint a picture of a luscious and beautiful sanctuary.
Moreover, the full experience of La Baie Aux Fleurs was conveyed by including information at labaieauxfleurs.com about St Barts as an island destination. The relevant local amenities such as proximity to both the shopping of nearby Gustavia and the pristine beach of Gouverneur were included to complete the portrayal. In short, a tailor made presentation of La Baie Aux Fleurs was crafted as a more appealing presentation option for the land owning client compared to the cookie-cutter approach of real estate agency website presentations.
Labaieauxfleurs.com become an enhanced marketing tool that could be easily shared with potential buyers while displaying a carefully crafted presentation that highlights all of a property’s features without the risk of losing interest to other properties that a real estate agency might have in their portfolio online. With website in hand, we were then able to utilize online advertising (e.g., Adwords) to drive traffic to labaieauxfleurs.com. Although it did not lead directly to the final sale of the property, the strategy did result in many inquires which helped satisfy the land owner’s expectation to explore all possible avenues for a potential sale.
Final result was that the client was able to meet both of his original goals by enlisting the help of an architect even though he had no intention of building the project himself:
1- Building Permit was secured from the Collectivité de Saint-Barthelemy increasing the property’s value
2- Property was sold at the full requested asking price.
Unfortunately, the new owner choose a different architectural vision but the project is amongst those of our unbuilt portfolio.