Carlton Landing Designed Around People
For 15 years, longtime Oklahoma City residents Grant and Jen Humphreys divided their vacation time between Lake Eufaula, where Grant’s grandfather, Jack Carlton Humphreys, had built a lake house in the early 1970s, and Seaside, Florida.
The family place at Lake Eufaula was a popular gathering spot for the extended Humphreys family, including Grant’s father, Kirk, former Oklahoma City mayor.
Seaside drew the couple not only because of its proximity to the ocean and climate, but also because of its unique sense of community and lifestyle: it’s a planned community designed around people rather than automobiles, with features designed to foster a sense of belonging.
In the early 2000s, as Grant and Jen’s family grew, they continued to frequent 30A (a well-known road on the Florida Panhandle along the Emerald Coast where Seaside is located), but the long travel distance was always a challenge–especially with five children in tow.
Flash forward to 2007. Grant had joined his father, Kirk, in The Humphreys Company and was focused on building community in Oklahoma City’s urban core. From Block 42 condominiums to redeveloping the Downtown Airpark (now known as “Wheeler District,” which is handled by Blair Humphreys), the Humphreys had their plate full. During this time, Kirk purchased 1,650 acres of lakefront property at Lake Eufaula.
One day, during a drive through the property with his father, Humphreys wonders out loud: “What if we could create, here at Lake Eufaula, an Oklahoma version of Seaside?”
From there, he said, “the vision just grew.”
First step: to conduct a market study. Among the findings: Lake Eufaula is within 3.5 hours’ drive time of several large metropolitan areas, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Dallas/Fort Worth, and a corridor of communities in northwest Arkansas. The area is easily accessible, thanks to several major highways. And no other comparable resort-type or living communities was located in the region.
Humphreys next assembled a design team led by Andres Duany of Duany Plater-Zyberk, or “DPZ”. The world-renowned “New Urbanism” planner had designed Seaside and, later, another community in Florida called Rosemary Beach, which also features human-scaled urban design. Duany led a team of top urban planners, architects, engineers and designers to create a master plan for Carlton Landing unlike anything ever seen in this area. Infrastructure development began in 2010, with the first homes constructed in 2011.
Although Humphreys said he initially had no thoughts of moving from Oklahoma City, the couple in 2012 decided to make Carlton Landing their primary home. Much of his work was taking place there, making it easier for him to live on-site, he explains, but also, he and Jen had decided that Carlton Landing was a fantastic place in which to raise their children.
In the ensuring four years, Carlton Landing has blossomed. It now features multiple neighborhoods, an organic farm and farm market, and parks, walking trails and pools. Funded through a TIF (tax increment financing), the community’s infrastructure will be enriched with a conference and retreat center, a destination wedding chapel, a nature center and town center with shops, restaurants and an art gallery.
This summer, the community’s school, Carlton Landing Academy, became the first rural public charter school outside Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. Jen, who earned a master of education administration degree from Baylor University, serves as chairman of the academy’s school board and volunteers as the Spanish teacher.
Though all the elements of the community are, of course, new, Humphreys says the design incorporates the best of traditional urban neighborhoods, such as a thoughtfully defined and landscaped public realm complete with sidewalks, street trees and neighborhood parks. The walkable framework encourages people to spend more time walking or biking, allowing for more spontaneous encounters with neighbors and a relaxed pace of life.
But Humphreys says the best is yet to come for this growing community on the shores of Lake Eufaula.
The next plat phase will be developed this winter, adding 128 home sites and another community pool. Also in the works are “The Residence Club at Carlton Landing” (see sidebar) and “The Lake House,” featuring a resort-style pool, kids’ pool and jetted spa, all framed in a deck area overlooking the lake. The Lake House also will feature an upscale restaurant, members’ lounge and fitness room. Occupying the top floor will be two luxury residences.
Attention now is being turned toward the waterfront areas. Unlike most private lakeside developments, most of Carlton Landing’s waterfront areas have been reserved for communal activities, such as swimming beaches, picnic areas and trails. The U.S. Corps of Engineers recently re-zoned the land around the community’s portion of the lake to make way for future amenities. Through a lease with the Corps, Carlton Landing is working to create a new 300-slip marina complete with a ship store, restaurants and fuel facilities.
At the existing marina, kayaks and paddleboats, as well as skis, wakeboards and inflatable water toys, are made available to visitors as well as those who call this place home. The marina also accommodates a fleet of luxury boats, including speedboats, cabin cruisers and pontoons. For a modest price, residents have the option of joining the Boat Club at Carlton Landing, which allows them use of the boats without the worries and costs of maintenance and upkeep.
“When we first envisioned Carlton Landing, we dreamed of a place that would offer all the things we loved about the Oklahoma lake experience, but without the hassles and headaches inherent in owning a second home. In combining world-class design with a high level of service, I think we’ve made that lake experience available to this region for the first time,” says Humphreys. “But getting the design and service right is just setting the table. What makes Carlton Landing truly great are the people who show up for the party. We’re so honored to be able to do life with these friends and neighbors who have helped make our dream a reality.”