Upcoming EventsView all events →
Spend a few minutes with Rob Bowman, or better yet, visit and experience a neighborhood created by Charter Homes & Neighborhoods, and you’ll see the commitment and creativity that the team at Charter brings to an industry that touches us all, and is ripe for being reinvented.
After college, he moved to Lancaster County with Deb, his wife and college sweetheart, and their golden retriever. He started Charter knowing he loved architecture and the idea of working with people.
It wasn’t long before he realized that the rules he was supposed to play by didn’t consider how people wanted to live or what the world looks like. “They say change happens when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired,” says Bowman. “I found myself looking around and seeing what was being built, the rich architectural heritage we were leaving behind, and realized there was something missing. What was missing was the one thing that defines what makes people and places special: Character. I realized Charter needed to be built on that one idea, and we needed to include it in everything we do,” he says.
“There has always been conversation about land use and how growth gets managed, but I realized the only way we could change the rules that govern land use was to do it ourselves. Our team is about making things happen, and I rarely follow the rules. Creating places is about people first, and that’s a different way of thinking. How land gets used, what we can create, is decided at a local level, so we met with townships and local leaders, shared our belief that people deserved better, and asked them to step up and work with
us to discover what’s possible, rather than what’s allowed.”
Bowman is careful to always use the word create rather than build. “Places that endear themselves to us are about the space between what is built. We spend more time designing how homes and buildings relate to each other than we do designing the homes and buildings themselves,” he says.
As a result, Charter has created sought after neighborhoods in the region. People from across the state visit and study them as examples for how communities should think about growth. “Each one of these taught us more about how and what we need to do, and most importantly, what people wanted, and we wrapped it all up in what we call The Great American Neighborhood®, that promises Life A Walk Away™.” With people traveling from around the country to see these places they created, they realized the opportunity they have to leave a mark goes beyond just Central Pennsylvania.
“So last year we opened up four neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, our big step in Reimagining America, One Neighborhood at a Time. Nothing defines a community more than what they build in the suburbs, and The Great American Neighborhood® is the model for the future if a community wants to be defined by character.”
Bowman believes what they do has a profound effect on people’s lives. He grew up in a home that included his grandmother. Russian by birth, she was forced to leave her home three times with only minutes to grab what she could as a result of war. She emigrated from Europe with Bowman’s mother in the 1950s. Having another generation in the house gave him a perspective and take on life that he cherishes to this day. “When I realized I had the ability to create homes and neighborhoods where young people could have older folks nearby, I realized the positive influence we had in what we do, and as a result, The Great American Neighborhood® is one of the first in the country that is multigenerational, with many examples of people of all ages living on the same street,” he says.
“I am a passionate learner, and continue to pursue every opportunity to discover more about the world, about others, and about myself. I think of myself as a creative person, a student of design who loves to draw.” Bowman graduated from The William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, after which he named the company, attended The Colorado School of Mines, and graduated from Arizona State, creating his own liberal arts education.
“When I look back on what we have accomplished, I realize it all happened as a result of passionate and committed people who share our purpose. It is also the result of the support and love of a family that includes our kids, Alex and Kristen, in spite of listening to me
always critique every place we visit (#stopitdad). I can’t wait to see the places we create going forward, and the mark we leave.”