Our Team

Red Leaf Village Company has hired the region’s best designers and engineers who are hard at work on Elliott Pond. Here is some background on those of us employed at Red Leaf itself.

Jim Hagey, President

Jim has been in the development business for 21 years. In the course of this work – it was in 1987 – he saw an article in Atlantic Monthly about a walkable community called Seaside in the Florida panhandle. He decided then and there that if he could gather the resources and find the right location, he would build a walkable community himself. The word “walkable” in this context means that it follows pre-1940s design principles – principles that give a higher priority to the pedestrian than to the automobile. It would have large, elevated front porches, alleys, narrow, tree-shaded streets, a town square and parks.

In 2000, in Ramona, California, he acquired the dream site that is now called Elliott Pond. It is perfect because it is within a five-minute, safe walk of schools and a shopping center. Plus, Ramona is a friendly town, a place Jim has always liked.
To learn which design strategies make a town great or terrible, Jim has visited Europe and criss-crossed the United States. He has found the best examples of good, new communities in South Carolina. Still, the best places to learn are simply the old parts of town, the parts built before 1940. He has also read countless design and town-planning books, and books on environmental sustainability. In addition, he has asked a lot of questions, especially to the residents of Ramona.

Jim graduated from Stanford University in 1975 where he majored in Political Science. He received a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1984. He shortly after entered the real estate business.

He says the best books on town-planning are Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zybeck and Jeff Speck; A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander; Streets and Sidewalks, People and Cars by Dan Burden; New Urbanism: A Comprehensive Report & Best Practices Guide by Robert Steuteville and Philip Langdon; and Designing Sustainable Communities by Judy Corbett and Michael Corbett. He also recommends Green Remodeling by David Johnston.

Karina Bania, Designer

I first met Karina two weeks after she returned from a nine-month, sometimes solitary tour of India. Her design work reflects her unconventional approach to life. It is fun, interesting, but restrained, tasteful, practical and always looks timeless. We want our communities to reflect those same qualities.

The Mexican tile-maker was about to throw away his tile because his cat had just left paw prints across its still-soft surface. Karina deliberately chose that tile for the kitchen counter of a resort condominium – just because of the paw prints. She is also, as you might derive, an artist.

Krisztina Szathmary, Architect and Urban Planner

Krisztina has the enormous advantage of having attended architecture school in Europe, where designing on a human scale is standard. That’s why European communities are so charming. The setbacks, street widths and building heights are designed for the pedestrian. Even the distances are designed for pedestrians. A safe, shaded, five-minute walk can get you to the most important destinations – shops, schools, parks, friends’ homes.

Krisztina was born and educated in Hungary, where she graduated from the Technical University of Budapest. Her degree does not apply in the U.S., so she is not a licensed American architect. Perhaps her U.S. title should be something like “Architectural Designer”, but she is in fact one of the best architects in California.

As for the silent “z” in both her first and last names, Hungarians have their own rules for that letter and make it hard for the rest of us.