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Sustainable Future

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Mallory strives to make sure construction and conservation work hand in hand together.

Like all students in the Wittenberg University business honors program, Peter Mallory (WC ’18) had two possible outcomes when he presented his honors dissertation, “The importance of sustainable zoning practices,” to a council of professors: He would either pass or fail. Judging by what happened afterward, Mallory probably would have received an A-plus if it had been graded on a letter scale.

Two months after graduation, Mallory lined up Matt Skinner to serve as a real estate mentor, and he acquired 200 acres of land to test his thesis.

“I ended up being able to do exactly what my dissertation said,” he said. “All this happened within the first year of graduating, which is rare. I feel very blessed to do it.”

Mallory implemented cluster density techniques in the zoning “for residential use with smaller lots.” Mallory’s plan for the 200 acres is to divide 120 acres into smaller lots for housing and reserve 80 acres for a city conservation park residents could become “immersed in just by walking out their backyard.” This will not only preserve green space but also provide affordable housing for young people who are looking to buy their first home.

“We need to begin shifting our mindset from (building homes) with the massive front lawns and 4,000 square feet for two people living in it to a community and conservation mindset,” Mallory said. “We need to develop a mindset that allows our young folk an opportunity at home ownership while preserving the farmland and woodland we love here in Ohio.

“We are still in the development phase of this project, but I am very excited about what it can offer small towns and communities across Ohio.”

The dissertation grew out of Mallory’s two seemingly conflicting concerns.

“I have this passion for conservation, but I also see this need for housing,” said Mallory, who is currently building a home on seven acres of land north of Columbus. “We should be preserving our farmlands and woods, but if we did that, we’d have nowhere to live.

“Out of that problem, I presented to my professors a zoning technique that would allow both of these things to work in harmony.”

When he graduated from high school, Mallory admits he didn’t know what his future would look like. His father, Scott, is the founder and CEO of the Highland Real Estate Group, but the younger Mallory said back then following his father’s footprints “wasn’t necessarily my passion.”

“I went into college not knowing what I was going to do or why I was going to do it,” he said.

Two seemingly unrelated things changed Mallory’s course. The first was working as a backpacking tour guide in Minnesota.

“I learned a lot about the privilege I had growing up,” he said. “I took that for granted. I feel like I have an obligation to give back to my community. I learned that the why we do something is much more important than the what we do.”

The second factor was Mallory’s exposure to the housing crisis in the United States. Redfin, a real estate group, released a study that shows just 15.5 percent of homes for sale in 2023 were within the financial means of an average U.S. household. That is the low water mark since Redfin began studying these trends in the early 2000s.

Mallory observed this trend as his friends and classmates graduated from college and started to try to purchase homes.

“Right now, you have this desperate need of my generation to be able to afford housing and start building up their ownership,” Mallory said. “There needs to be a middle ground of finding attainable housing for people in (the middle income) workforce.”

A study by the Bank of American Institute showed that Columbus, whose metro population has nearly tripled since 1950 and keeps steadily growing at about one percent yearly, was the fastest-growing city in the second half of 2023.

Mallory contends that the housing problem is not just a Columbus or Ohio problem but a concern across the United States.

“We have this NIMBY mindset: not in my backyard,” he said. “We feel development or growth of our city is wrong.

“When a huge economic boom is moving into your area, growth will happen, whether you like it or not.

“Growth doesn’t mean we have to destroy farmland. I want to make sure the town I grew up in will grow intentionally and sustainably.”

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