Larry D. Johnson was Houston real estate legend and planned community pioneer

by Patrick Regan

Larry D. Johnson, a pioneering developer of Houston’s master-planned communities, died Jan. 5. He was 81.

Johnson founded Johnson Development Corp. in 1975 and built it into one of Texas’ most successful real estate companies. He anticipated Houston’s growth into one of the country’s largest cities and the ensuing demand for housing, helping him build his business legacy. 

In the last decade, he had more master-planned communities ranked among the nation’s best selling than any other developer in the country, his obituary said.

Johnson was born in Plainview, Texas, and grew up in the west Texas town of Kress, where he learned the value of hard work by milking cows and hauling hay. He played football at Texas Tech and attended law school at the University of Texas at Austin before moving to Houston in 1962 and shifting his focus to real estate.

Johnson Development started from small residential developments and today has 19 communities in Houston, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta, representing more than 80,000 residential units.

Johnson is survived by his wife of 44 years, Suzanne Eastwood Johnson, five children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. 

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