The North State Building Industry Association recently saluted legendary Sacramento-area developer William R. Parker for his induction into the California Homebuilding Foundation Hall of Fame, which honors members of the industry for lifetime achievements.
Parker, president of family-owned Parker Development Co., is responsible for some of the region’s most honored communities, including Greenhaven and Riverlake in Sacramento, The Parkway in Folsom and Serrano in El Dorado Hills.
Michael Strech, the BIA’s President and CEO, said Parker’s selection for the Hall of Fame is long overdue.
“Bill Parker’s work has been recognized with numerous national awards for design excellence and high-quality amenities, perhaps most notably Serrano’s designation in 1997 as the National Association of Home Builders National Community of the Year,” Strech said.
“His outstanding communities are noted for their thoughtful design and amenities, such as the extensive trail system and open space in The Parkway and the spectacular golf course that highlights Serrano. Today, some 13,000 families live in Parker Development communities. And Bill was intimately involved in every aspect of the development of these communities.”
Strech noted that the developments all had significant constraints that had to be overcome, such as a high water table at Riverlake and an extensive series of wetlands and vernal pools at The Parkway. These problems were overcome by creating a lake at Riverlake and a magnificent trail and bridge system at The Parkway.
“But Bill really demonstrated his vision and his ability as a problem solver at Serrano. A drought had caused El Dorado County to declare a water emergency. To overcome the challenge, Parker’s team created the largest recycled water system in California to irrigate the golf course and landscaped public areas — a concept now used by developers around the country. The system saves a billion gallons a year of fresh water in El Dorado County,” Strech added.
Parker said he was honored to be selected and proud of the communities his family and their long-serving team have developed.
“I deeply appreciate this honor from the California Homebuilding Foundation,” Parker said. “I have spent most of my life dedicated to the company and our developments. I, along with my brothers and team, have worked diligently to create communities and amenities for people to enjoy for generations to come. When I drive though one of our neighborhoods and see families walking with strollers, children biking or how the natural landscapes are woven between the homes, I can feel proud of what we’ve have created.”
His brother, Jim Parker, the company’s vice president, said Bill Parker has truly been a visionary who has also created a family who has worked together to make his visions a reality.
“There’s a team of about 20 long-tenured employees in the company, each doing his or her part to create outstanding developments and make Parker Development Company as successful and reputable as possible,” Jim said. “Those standards of excellence all start with Bill. I think I can speak for all the staff when I say we are all proud to work with Bill and Parker Development Company. I am particularly proud because he is my brother.”
The Parkers grew up with homebuilding in their blood as their father, Harold, was a leading builder in the 1950s and ’60s. The company first came to national attention in 1962, when NAHB named its Greenhaven project the National Community of the Year — the same honor the company later earned for Serrano. Bill completed that project after joining the family business in 1969 upon graduation from UC Davis and serving in the Army National Guard. He became company president when his father died unexpectedly in 1976.
But as Jim recalled, their “careers” began much earlier than that.
“My brothers and I worked summers side-by-side as teenagers in Greenhaven and I don’t mean in adjacent offices — I mean in adjacent ditches. We dug ditches and spread sand and cobble around Lake Greenhaven by hand and began our economics education in the process. When we asked our father, ‘Can’t you do this much faster with a tractor?’ he said, ‘Yes, about twice as fast, but you guys cost 1/10 as much and you don’t break down.’”
Like so many homebuilding leaders, Bill is also committed to giving back to his community. Through his companies and a charitable foundation he established, he has supported many local charities and nonprofits, including St. Francis High School, the Boys & Girls Clubs of El Dorado County, Lake Tahoe and Sacramento, Saint Michael’s Episcopal Day School, Sierra Forever Families, Sutter Medical Center, Mercy Foundation, 3Strands Global, UC Davis Foundation Scholarships, the YMCA of Superior California, First Tee of Sacramento, El Dorado Community Foundation and numerous charities in El Dorado County.
He has also been a generous volunteer with the BIA, serving two three-year terms on the board of directors, and is also a member of the El Dorado County Association of Realtors, the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Grandfathers Club of America.
“It is developers like Bill Parker who have created the neighborhoods that make the Sacramento region such a desirable place to live, and who have inspired the developers and builders creating today’s new home communities,” Strech said. “It’s an honor to know Bill and I’m proud to congratulate him on this high honor.”