Heidi Majerik studied environmental engineering at Syracuse University and attempts to create places with positive impacts. Courtesy Southern Land Co.

Southern Land Co. developer applies philosophy to placemaking

ERIE — It’s not everyday that a real estate developer quotes Winston Churchill, Robert Putnam and Aristotle in the same conversation — but Southern Land Co. vice president and general manager of the company’s Westerly project in Erie doesn’t see herself as a run of the mill developer.

“We shape our buildings and then afterward our buildings shape us,” the former farm girl and self-described “armchair anthropologist” said Heidi Majerik, echoing Churchill. 

“It’s imperative that our built environment is built in a way that positively impacts rather than negatively impacts us,” Majerik said. “That’s what Winston Churchill was getting at.”

Heidi Majerik trained as an endurance athlete. Now she develops neighborhoods. Courtesy Southern Land Co.

Majerik, an endurance athlete who qualified for the U.S. national snowshoe championship in 2005, studied environmental engineering at Syracuse University.

“I did not set out to develop the world; I set out to save it,” she said. But when development is inevitable, “the best way for me to be a steward of the ground is to be the one who is going to develop it.”

Majerik leans on the teachings of Greek philosophers to guide her process, which she describes as “placemaking.”

“It starts with Aristotle. Where did Aristotle teach? He taught in the agora, which was a marketplace,” Majerik said. “The heart of our community is the agora, our town center. You never know who’s going to meet in the town center and hatch ideas and start businesses together.”

By centering development around a bustling town center, Majerik said she is building a place where locals can engage with their neighbors and community.

“Spontaneous civic engagement builds society. It builds strength and builds kindness,” she said. “It creates the stage on which we live the theater of our lives.”

Majerik recognizes that she’s an outlier not only in the way she approaches development but also in that she’s a woman in a male-dominated field.

“It’s a unique industry that I’m in in the sense that there’s not a lot of women who do what I do,” she said. 

In 2019, Majerik was named the board president of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, the second woman to hold that post.

“In my time there, I hired the first female executive director of that organization, and I put other women on the leadership ladder,” she said. “Putting women on a path to success is extremely rewarding.”

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ERIE — It’s not everyday that a real estate developer quotes Winston Churchill, Robert Putnam and Aristotle in the same conversation — but Southern Land Co. vice president and general manager of the company’s Westerly project in Erie doesn’t see herself as a run of the mill developer.

“We shape our buildings and then afterward our buildings shape us,” the former farm girl and self-described “armchair anthropologist” said Heidi Majerik, echoing Churchill. 

“It’s imperative that our built environment is built in a way that positively impacts rather than negatively impacts us,” Majerik said. “That’s what Winston Churchill was getting at.”

Heidi Majerik trained as an endurance athlete. Now she develops neighborhoods. Courtesy Southern Land Co.

Majerik, an endurance athlete who qualified for the U.S. national snowshoe championship in 2005, studied environmental engineering at Syracuse University.

“I did not set out to develop the world; I set out to save it,” she said. But when development is inevitable, “the best way for me to be a steward of the ground is to be the one who is going to develop it.”

Majerik leans on the teachings of Greek philosophers to guide her process, which she describes as “placemaking.”

“It starts with Aristotle. Where did Aristotle teach? He taught in the agora, which was a marketplace,” Majerik said. “The heart of our community is the agora, our town center. You never know who’s going…