Sage Lodge announced and coming soon: opening next summer in Montana’s Paradise Valley

Sage Lodge announced and coming soon: opening next summer in Montana’s Paradise Valley

Located along the Yellowstone River just 30 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, Sage Lodge will become an ecotourism destination offering visitors an authentic Montana outdoor experience, and access to some of the world’s best fly fishing and recreational opportunities.

Jax expert: This is how a developer keeps communities relevant

Wednesday, Nov. 8
Published by the Jacksonville Business Journal
By Derek Gilliam, Reporter

As homebuilding continues to ramp up along the First Coast, large master-planned communities — particularly in Northern St. Johns County — are in some cases hitting their second or third phase of development.

How does a developer keep a community relevant more than a decade after the first home was built?

They hire civil engineers, landscape architects and designers that shape a vision for the project.

Steve Lovett, a principal with professional design firm Ervin Lovett & Miller, has worked on more than 50 master-planned communities, including Northern St. Johns County's Shearwater, Rivertown and Nocatee.

He recently discussed the topic of master-planned communities with the Jacksonville Business Journal.

What is a master-planned community and what are the goals when designing one? 

Master planning in general is just a process by which you ensure that you are making good decisions and creating value. A master-plan, whether it’s for a commercial redevelopment project like Sawgrass Village or a very large master-planned community like Shearwater in St. Johns County, it’s very important that all of the elements are considered together, so that you are creating the greatest possible value.

Really, a master-planned community implies the fact that it is comprehensively planned, intentionally. A large master-planned project is going to take several years, sometimes even longer, so we intentionally contemplate the configuration and alignment of the infrastructure: how a project might be phased, how value is created through design of the community. The creation of open spaces. All of that, if well designed, can increase value.

What is the firm’s philosophy when undertaking a master planned community?

Our philosophy is that we always start with the site. Early in my career, I was doing work in some really unique places and had some great mentors. A site is not like a prototype. Nobody wants to live in a prototype. These are places where people are raising families and creating life-long memories. So, what we do should represent something that is unique to itself. We look at each project and we look at each piece of property as completely unique to itself. We identify the greatest natural assets of any piece of property and preserve those, so that ultimately when a project is completed, it will still have the greatest manifestation of those assets possible.

For instance, Shearwater on County Road 210. Its landscape is beautiful, quintessential North Florida pine woods landscape, with some really wonderful pockets of wetland and conservation areas, really natural edges. And it has access to Trout Creek. Really the story of Shearwater is of open space and connectivity and celebrating the natural landscape. One of the things that is great about planning is we as designers have the ability and opportunity to put people where we want them and to show them what we want them to see. Rather than backing up a bunch of lots, up to a bunch of natural edges, we brought the main entry and spine road along those natural edges. 

With residential master-planned communities that can take more than a decade before they are fully built out, how do you create a timeless quality to ensure future sales even as trends change?

Designing with the intention that the project will adapt. Future undeveloped parcels need to be planned to adapt to what the market may be at the time. The community’s amenities and recreation facilities should adapt to as trends change. One of the things that we are very pleased with, is that a lot of our projects are timeless because we have set them up in such a way that the infrastructure supports the development in a really authentic way. We don’t want to typecast any community in any vintage or period in time. We aim for that three generations from now, the architecture is still relevant. It’s really a matter of fundamentals and conscious, intentional planning.

What do you see happening in the future in the master-planned community space in the future?

I think we have an opportunity here in North Florida to look at master-planned communities from a different lens then we have in the past. Different things are important. It used to be that there was a golf community in every residential community. Golf has become saturated in large measure. We look at those things that really attract and retain families. We want a master-planned community to be something that performs ecologically as well as economically. The preservation of these conservation areas, not just for appearances, but also for the value of a community.

A trend now is the idea of being able to live healthier. The ability for people to be able to walk and engage with nature will continue to be important. We have incorporated in most of our communities multi-use trails. It enables people to experience their community in a whole different way. There’s also a movement in terms of fresh foods and gardens and this whole notion from Farm to Table. We are starting to see a need for space where people can grow their own food. Really, suburban development, which has in the past been looked at as a pretty consumptive, car-dependent lifestyle. I think that’s being replaced by a more thoughtful and intelligent way of planning where we celebrate a property's greatest natural assets. 

ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller welcomes new Marketing Manager

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville-based Ervin Lovett Miller architecture, planning and design firm recently added a new member to its Jacksonville office in response to the firm’s growth and new project opportunities.

Erin Weinberg is ELM’s new marketing manager, leading the firm’s marketing, public relations, communication and community outreach initiatives. Ms. Weinberg brings to the firm a combined experience in marketing, public relations and design to broaden and amplify ELM’s market and community presence. For the past several years she has contributed her expertise in a marketing role with an environmental consulting firm in south Florida.


“Erin’s background in marketing and design is unique. She understands the nuances of design and can articulate the added value in ELM’s multidisciplinary, client-oriented structure,” said ELM partner Steve Lovett. “We are excited for her to engage in the communities where we work, and amplify the firm’s value and benefits to our clients and those who experience our work.”

Ms. Weinberg, a recent transplant to Jacksonville from Tallahassee, earned her master’s degree in interior design from Florida State University and her undergraduate degree in geography from the University of Florida. Her unique background in marketing together with a strong literacy in design are well-aligned with ELM’s multidisciplinary firm structure and design process.


ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller team grows with new staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville-based Ervin Lovett Miller architecture, planning, and design firm recently added a new experienced member to its talented team.

Jason Tankersley is an experienced designer with more than a decade of professional experience spanning all phases of architectural project execution, from preliminary design to detailed design documents and construction administration. He brings extensive experience in Building Information Modeling (BIM) and a strong technical background, together with a collaborative spirit that will serve the firm well for the detailed coordination required among team members and consultants for the firm’s unique and often-complex multidisciplinary projects.

Jason earned his professional degree in architecture from Southern Polytechnic State University near Atlanta, Ga., and brings a diverse background of project types including hotel/resort, office, retail, government, industrial and more.

His passion for creative design extends beyond architecture to include film and digital photography as well as graphic design. He is also a member of the Jacksonville AIA Emerging Design Professionals.

Hurricane Irma Recovery

ELM's Jacksonville Studio experienced flood damage when high tides and storm surge from Hurricane Irma caused the nearby St. Johns River to flood Downtown Jacksonville and adjacent urban neighborhoods.

As you all know, Hurricane Irma affected virtually the entire state of Florida, bringing with it considerable destruction and loss of life and property. Jacksonville, in particular, suffered through an unprecedented flooding event that interrupted power for many and caused a great deal of loss of property. 

Thankfully, each member of the ELM Team is safe, however, our Jacksonville Studio in Downtown’s Southbank was not spared. The studio received flood damage from the St. Johns River’s high tides and storm surge that affected much of Downtown Jacksonville and adjacent urban neighborhoods. 

It will be several weeks before we are fully recovered and all building damage is repaired. However, staff has been relocated from the affected areas, and the office is essentially fully-functional. ELM is able to attend to the service of our clients and their work – our firm’s highest priority.

Despite this unexpected disruption to normal life and business, we will do our very best to remain responsive and accessible – and we ask for your forbearance in advance as we adapt through the next several weeks of repairs, ultimately with the hope to make the office higher-performing and more resilient to the effects of these types of ever-increasing events. 

Please feel free to reach out to our team via phone or e-mail if you have any questions. We hope this correspondence finds you safe and well. Collectively, we are grateful to be on the other side of this devastating storm.


ELM Partners & Staff

Russ Ervin –
Steve Lovett –
Tim Miller –

ELM sets the vision for the first major community in the Waterside District in Lakewood Ranch

ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller is the planner, architect and landscape architect for LakeHouse Cove, a new community in the new Waterside District of Lakewood Ranch. The Waterside District marks Lakewood Ranch’s first major development in Sarasota County in two decades and is situated among numerous large existing lakes which define this landscape. 

ELM drew inspiration for the LakeHouse Cove community from the magnificent scale and peaceful setting of these remarkably large bodies of water - and positioned homesites, common areas, and the primary civic and recreational amenity in spectacular settings on the water.

The ELM team was responsible for the refinement of the overall master plan; planning, architecture and landscape architectural design of the major community clubhouse and adjacent amenities; front entry design and signage; and the trails, open space and pocket parks integrated throughout the community.

Construction is currently underway on LakeHouse Cove, with the Lake House and primary amenities expected to open summer of 2018.

Lakewood Ranch is the 31,000-acre award-winning master-planned community in Sarasota and Manatee counties on the West Coast of Florida - and the 4th fastest selling community in the United States. Lakewood Ranch is already home to more than 30,000 residents and features A-rated schools, a hospital, the Sarasota Polo Club, the 75-acre Premier Sports Campus, its own Main Street with theaters, shopping and dining, and more than four million square feet of commercial property.

Shearwater community wins five prestigious design and construction awards

Shearwater, the new master-planned residential community on County Road 210, was recently honored with four Aurora Awards for design by the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) and the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC), as well as a 2017 Excellence in Construction Award by the Florida First Coast Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC). These five industry-leading accolades celebrate Shearwater’s purposely-designed and crafted 1,500-acre community that has become the fastest growing community in St. Johns County. 

Developed by Freehold Communities, Shearwater was designed to promote healthy living, community engagement and a connection to the outdoors. Freehold worked with well-known Northeast Florida companies to bring its vision for an immersive lifestyle community to life. Jacksonville-based planning and architecture firm, ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller (ELM), was Shearwater’s community master planner, amenity architect, and community landscape architect. As the project amenities and hardscape contractor, Dicky Smith & Co. (DSC) built the 12.5-acre amenity center, neighborhood entrances and parks. Ansana Interior Design provided interior design services for the community amenities.

“We are very excited that Shearwater was recognized for excellence in construction, planning and design by local industry professionals,” said Suzanne Maddalon, Vice President, Freehold Communities. “As with all of our properties, Freehold Communities focuses on working with quality partners, such as ELM, DSC and Ansana Interior Design to create a truly unique community that offers natural beauty and timeless designs.” 

Aurora Awards

The prestigious Aurora Awards are presented annually by the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) and the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) to recognize excellence in planning, design, and construction in projects across the southeastern United States and the Eastern Caribbean.  Shearwater’s overall masterplan concept took home two Aurora Awards in the Residential Housing Community of the Year category for Masterplan and Best Community Site Plan. Shearwater’s impressive Kayak Club amenity center – which just celebrated its one-year anniversary of its grand opening – won two Aurora Awards: Best Recreational Facility and Best Interior Merchandising – Community Amenity or Clubhouse. ELM purposely designed the Kayak Club as the civic heart of the community, providing 6,800 sq. ft. of recreation space with indoor and outdoor gathering areas and event venues for residents to enjoy community activities.

“Shearwater represents a unique commitment to outdoor recreation, nature, wellness, and quality of life that is reflected throughout the community but is especially evident in the design of the central recreational center, the Kayak Club. This recreational and community hub was designed to offer residents a high-quality social, aquatics, fitness, play, and tennis experience. It is linked through a network of trails and open spaces to parks integrated throughout the community, offering tot-lots, picnic areas, dog parks, creekfront overlooks, and a kayak and canoe launch on Trout Creek,” said Steve Lovett, ELM Principal and lead designer for Shearwater.

For the Kayak Club’s interior, Ansana combined luxury and comfort with Old Florida style to create a natural and inviting gathering space for residents.

“The Kayak Club’s interior design concept was inspired by the area’s natural environment along Trout Creek combined with Old Florida architectural elements,” said Nancy Short, design principal at Ansana Interior Design. “We used hand-crafted furniture, tile, and extensive millwork, including exposed beams and wood-clad walls, floors, and ceilings, to create a sense of luxury for the clubhouse. Comfortable modern seating, expansive verandas, and an inviting snack bar/coffee shop were purposely designed for residents to use the building daily.”

Excellence in Construction Eagle Award

Shearwater was also recognized with a 2017 Excellence in Construction Eagle Award by ABC’s First Coast Florida Chapter. ABC is the premier trade organization for specialty builders and its Excellence in Construction Award honors outstanding contractors for high-quality construction projects. Shearwater’s expansive Kayak Club Amenity Center, entry ways and hardscapes won the Eagle Award for the Commercial Construction Category for $5-$10 million projects.

As the project’s general and specialty contractor, DSC collaborated with Freehold and ELM to build out the commercial portion of Shearwater – from the specialty-designed main entrance water feature to the resort-style Kayak Club Amenity Center, which includes an oversized fitness lodge, the longest Lazy Bird River in Northeast Florida, the Perch Waterslide Tower overlooking a multi-lane lap pool and lagoon pool and illuminated Har-Tru tennis courts. 

“Dicky Smith & Co. was honored to be recognized in this year’s ABC Excellence in Construction awards,” said Stuart Maxwell, vice president, Dicky Smith & Co. “Shearwater is an amazing, one-of-a-kind project that provided our company with a unique opportunity and challenge to demonstrate to our clients and industry peers what our dedicated and experienced team can do.”

TrailMark wins two Excel Awards

GreenPointe Communities, LLC recently won two Excel Awards from the Florida Homebuilders Association for the Best Newspaper Advertisement and the Best Billboard showcasing their ELM-designed TrailMark community.

The billboard campaign showcases TrailMark’s relationship with nature and recreation with a twist. The billboard links these moments with a title that’s a take on how busy people connect via technology (Instant Messaging, Group Chat and Livestreaming), demonstrating the beauty and value of slowing down and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle offered at TrailMark.

ELM provided comprehensive community master planning and recreational trail design for the 1,300-acre TrailMark single-family residential neighborhood situated among the waterways and lakes created by Six Mile Creek.

The ELM design team also provided architectural and landscape architectural services for the 7,400-square-foot outdoor-inspired amenities and welcome center that serves as the central social and recreational hub of the community.

The Excel Awards honors those builders, commercial contractors, craftsman, Realtors®, on-site salespeople, public relations professionals, associate/supplier, media and advertising professionals who make major contributions to the residential home building and commercial construction industry through superior, innovative and creative sales and marketing. 

Graphics courtesy of What’s Up Jacksonville.

Couple renews wedding vows in new ELM-designed underwater San Diego Zoo exhibit

With penguins and leopard sharks swimming beside them, a San Diego couple renewed their vows at an underwater wedding ceremony Wednesday, inside the Africa Rocks Penguin Pool exhibit, according to San Diego Zoo Global and NBC San Diego.

ELM's Seattle studio, ELM Environments, together with Miller Hull Partnership & Quince Farm Studios, designed the San Diego Zoo's 8.5-acre $68.3-million Africa Rocks project featuring this new shark and penguin habitat modeled after the Fynbos ecoregion located along the Western Cape of South Africa.

This phase opened July 3 and was the largest attendance day in San Diego Zoo's history. The rest of the project will be opening in phases as summer progresses.

Click below for the video of the ceremony and new Penguin Pool exhibit.

New Africa Rocks penguin and shark pool marks a “first” for the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo has been home to hundreds of species of animals in its 101-year history. However, when 12 leopard sharks began moving into the all-new ELM-designed Africa Rocks (June 28, 2017), it marked the first time the Zoo has ever displayed sharks.

The 12 leopard sharks were introduced into their new 200,000-gallon seawater pool, where they met their new pool mates: 20 African penguins.

The Cape Fynbos penguin habitat in Africa Rocks features a cobblestone beach surface, penguin nesting areas and rockwork that mimics the granite boulders found at Boulders Beach in South Africa. The 70-foot-long and 10-foot-wide habitat includes a 200,000-gallon pool that stretches 170 feet, with depths up to 13 feet.

ELM's Seattle studio, ELM Environments, together with Miller Hull Partnership & Quince Farm Studios, designed the San Diego Zoo's 8.5-acre $68.3-million Africa Rocks project featuring this new shark and penguin habitat modeled after the Fynbos ecoregion located along the Western Cape of South Africa.