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GASTONIA, NC-Millionaire developer Robert Johnston, at 72, is always looking for new ways to improve shelter product. Now he has set up Safe Homes of America and Safe Inns of America, urban-setting concepts designed for markets such as uptown Charlotte and the suburbs. Johnston envisions a model city of high rises engineered to allow cars to drop off passengers at their upper-floor residences.

Johnston, of Gastonia, 20 miles west of Downtown Charlotte, hopes to franchise his idea. But in a published report, Johnston says the concept may be a tough sell to conventional developers, historically skeptical of breaking from tradition. He feels, however, the Safe Homes and Safe Inns design is practical and would revolutionize the shelter and hospitality industries.

He developed two of Gaston County’s largest residential communities and the Dixie Village Shopping Center. Johnston envisions a model city of about 550 units near schools, shopping, restaurants and recreational facilities, all within walking distance.

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