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Introducing Zonda’s 2021 Legends Award Winner: Larry Johnson

Introducing Zonda’s 2021 Legends Award Winner: Larry Johnson

October 07, 2021

The visionary behind the development of 100 projects on 43,000 acres, Johnson Development Founder and CEO Larry Johnson has been named Zonda’s 2021 Legends Award winner.

The award is presented to those who have dedicated their careers to the development of first-class master-planned communities.

Larry’s storied career in residential real estate began in 1962 when he moved to Houston to take advantage of opportunities there. He says Houston is a great place to do business.

“Houston has always been a very open city,” he said. If you can prove yourself, it doesn’t make a difference where you come from.”

Several years later, he and a partner opened Johnson-Loggins development company, which they later sold to Florida-based First Realty Investment. Larry went to work with First Realty Investment, and when his contract expired, he launched Johnson Development Corp. in 1975.

The following decades saw a string of successes and a few dips as Johnson Development rode the waves of turbulent markets. But Larry always positioned the company to take advantage of opportunities when they arose, forging long-lasting relationships with lenders, investors and builders that proved fruitful. Today, Johnson Development has 18 active communities in Houston, Dallas, Austin and Atlanta, many of which are ranked among the nation’s top-selling master-planned communities.

Friends and partners say the company’s success rests squarely on Larry’s shoulders. From an article in Builder Magazine regarding Larry’s award:

“He’s the king when it comes to large-scale community development in the Houston region and other markets he’s gotten involved in,” says Charlie Lusk, a close friend and occasional business partner of Johnson’s. “He has a knack for laying out stuff like this, how to divide it, how to market it—he’s a machine. And he’s got builders that basically follow him everywhere he goes.”

He said later in the article:

“He had a long vision and appreciation for land that few had,” says Lusk. “He could look at a piece of real estate and see the merits of it from a developmental perspective.”

Larry, however, says the credit is to be shared with the Johnson team; many employees have been with him for decades.

“I think pulling together a team of highly creative, talented people who weren’t afraid to pioneer new concepts helped refine our position as a developer of lifestyle communities,” Larry says.

You can read the full article in Builder Magazine here.


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