Case Studies

Michael Harris Homes

Delivering high-quality homes for a range of demographics in the mid-Atlantic

For more than 30 years, Michael Harris Homes has been building distinct homes and communities throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Founded in 1984, the family-owned firm has built a stunning and diverse portfolio, including single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and even a handful of commercial projects.

In conjunction with sister company, Streetscape Partners, Michael Harris Homes is operated by brothers, Harris and Michael Schwalb. Both active principals, they work with a strong leadership team comprised of Ron Kaplan, co-managing principal, Leslie Fitzpatrick, vice president of sales and marketing and Howard Katz, acquisitions and development director. Each brings decades of experience to the table and these expert partners strive to build homes with a sense of place and connection to surrounding communities.

In the neighborhood

Michael Harris Homes focuses on projects within key Maryland and Virginia counties as well as in Washington, D.C. The firm strives to integrate new structures into existing neighborhoods that benefit communities, future residents and local businesses.

Current work includes a project in the King Farm development in Rockville, Maryland. “King Farm is a planned unit development close to 20 years old,” explains Katz. “Our firm built there previously and the location is approximately 25 to 30 minutes outside of D.C.” In one of the wealthiest counties in Maryland, Michael Harris Homes’ latest development in King Farm consists of 129 townhomes ranging in price from the upper $500,000 range to mid $600,000.

“This is a move-up townhome product line,” Katz continues. “The project is part of the existing King Farm neighborhood with 3,200 units, swimming pools, a town center with grocer and retail and a shuttle that runs within the community to the Shady Grove metro station.”

The New Urbanism design of the community permits residents to leave their cars at home and walk to nearby retail or hop on the shuttle to the metro station, and the new townhome project fits in well. “We are leveraging the history of King Farm but it’s a newer product with upgraded features,” says Katz. “These homes are four stories with rooftop decks. Because they are located in the office area of King Farm, we’ve gone for a more contemporary, warehouse design with flat roofing, which is also a trend in the marketplace.”

Michael Harris Homes

In addition to King Farm, Michael Harris Homes is building single-family homes from the high $800,000 at Maple Lawn Farms in Howard County, luxury townhomes from $1.2 million at Grosvenor Heights and single-family homes from $1.4 million at Bethesda Mews in Montgomery County.

In Washington, D.C.’s Shaw District, the team is working on a 71-unit condominium project, 10eleven. “This project is under construction and open for sale,” Katz notes. “We are actively marketing and writing contracts and have had a lot of positive interest. We’re located east of Logan Circle, just one of many emerging areas in the District. We saw this condominium opportunity a few years prior to the competition and rising land prices.”

While the company’s primary focus is residential development, Michael Harris Homes and sister company Streetscape Partners are also tackling some commercial work.

“This is a 390,000-square-foot Premium Outlet Center in the Clarksburg area of Montgomery county, Maryland, 15 minutes north of Rockville and along Interstate 270,” Katz elaborates. “The site had been planned for a hospital that did not obtain the certificate of need competing with another hospital in Maryland. We approached the owners about converting the hospital square footage into a Premium Outlet Center and processed the entitlements.” Michael Harris Homes partnered with New England Development and Simon Property Group, a global leader in retail real estate investment. The Premium Outlet Center in Clarksburg is scheduled to open fall 2016.

Taking pride in quality

With each project, Michael Harris Homes inserts a high level of quality and care to ensure that townhomes, condominiums and single-family houses feel like home for their future owners. Each new unit is selectively designed, developed and constructed to become an enduring component of the community. “We take a lot of pride in our product,” says Katz. “We are building homes of tremendous quality and creating well-planned communities that will stand the test of time. One of our greatest measures of success is that five or 10 years down the road, a property feels like an integral part of what’s around it — that it doesn’t appear to be just dropped in and instead has a sense of place.”

Part of the guarantee of units that stand the test of time is using new designs. Michael Harris Homes avoids repeat elevations and floorplans, instead opting for fresh designs that cater to their surroundings. The developer also maintains close ties with subcontractors and strategic partners and instead of offering a limited showroom, defers customization to the experts. This allows future homeowners to take advantage of a more personalized experience and communicate with the professionals installing the components that make a house a home.

Customers are in good hands with Michael Harris Homes and its partners. “We’ve had trade partners who have worked with us for 20 years,” says Katz. “Whether countertops or cabinets, flooring or appliances we trust the people who provide and install anything the customer can touch and feel. It does help to have that working relationship with our sub base.”

Long-term relationships come with the territory for a homebuilder that has been in business for more than three decades. The firm’s lasting relationships and reputation for quality homes ensures that Michael Harris Homes will remain a household name in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., residential market.

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