Perhaps it is because of recent news images of the 1969 landing on the moon, or the death of Walter Cronkite and the famous clips of him in Vietnam, but for some reason as I read an article in Charlotte’s Business Todaynewspaper about local, upscale Lake Norman home-builder Simonini’s plans to modify their plans for the much touted Preserve at Robbins Park to build more and smaller homes I was reminded of the old Peter Paul and Mary song: The Times They are a Changing.
While this is a logical and pragmatic change, I was struck with a feeling that this is a sign that our current recession is more that just a short-term blip on the screen but rather a life-altering, philosophical and widespread change in our priorities and lifestyles. “Nothing is selling at the $600,000 level so Simonini wants to build smaller homes–about a dozen or more than originally planned–on smaller losts, starting at $400,000” according to project manager Rick Jasinski.
The price ranges for The Preserve at Robins Park were developed in 2003 through 2005 during the time when they purchased the land. “The price point that we have is not selling as fast as in 2006 and 2007, ” CEo Ray Killian said in this same article. In fact, Simonini acknowledges that there have been “no formal reservations at the Preserve at Robbins Park”. (Construction began in 2008. See my article: ).
What I found the most telling is the fact that Simonini Builders is bringing in an architect from Newport Beach CA. to do “floorplan designs and construction drawings of smaller homes. In California….Bassenian Logini works in partnership with builder and developer clients to create communities that appeal not only to future users but to builders seeking a competitive edge…”. “Bassenian Lagoni’s expertise is in designing smaller, more functional, livable homes…” So, this first phase of homes at The Preserve will include 2,500 – 3,000 square foot homes starting in the $400,000’s rather than the 4600 square foot homes starting in the $600,000s.
When my husband and I first moved to Lake Norman in 2005 from California we actually wanted a smaller home but there simply were none available. Today, the most recent phase of Crescent Resources The Farms on the Brawley School peninsula has 4000+ square foot spec homes sitting empty. An entire group of 4000+ square feet of new homes in Northington Woods off Fernhill Rd are sitting, some bank owned, some unfinished.
Perhaps this recession will bring about some common sense changes in our Lake Norman communities as well as around the country. Many of my out-of-state clients come here seeking reasonably sized homes but, just like me, end up buying a larger home than they needed because they were what was available.
I hope what will grow out of these difficult times will be high performance, energy efficient homes that are compatable with the environment, and with the future lifestyles that will emerge. Perhaps they will resemble the times of Peter Paul and Mary, when home buyers expected to put down at least 20% and when a house purchase was not an investment but a home.
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