Serendipity on Sunnyslope
Home builders cooperate to beat bad economy
Saturday, February 2, 2013
SUNNYSLOPE — When Michael Cassidy and his wife moved back here last year, they bought property in Sunnyslope only a block away from where they’d lived six years before.
“We missed living on this very spot,” said the retired engineer, who moved to Lynden in 2006. “We missed the sunshine, the four seasons and the mountain views we’d enjoyed for years. We never thought we could find a place again on Sunnyslope, but here we are.”
He pointed across the street to his new home, taking shape as one of the first move-in-ready houses in a new 27-acre Sunnyslope subdivision. “It’s right where we dreamed it’d be,” he said.
The 66-lot Madison Acres, one of Sunnyslope’s largest developments in a decade, has been touted by area housing experts as a unique experiment in helping rejuvenate a construction industry hit hard by years of economic slowdown. The project brings together five local home builders working together to take advantage of a housing market that’s finally showing signs of life.
“This is a unique situation, a kind of loose partnership, of five builders with the same sense of quality and proven sales records,” said Ted McDaniel, owner of Mountain Vista Homes and the developer and lead contractor on the project.
McDaniel said he hand-picked the companies to “share the opportunity” — including some of the risks and some of the costs — by working together instead of aggressively competing for vacant properties and qualified customers.
What: A new housing development in Sunnyslope in North Wenatchee.
Where: On new subdivision streets located south of the corner of Ridgeview Boulevard and Dianna Way
Who: Developed by Ted McDaniel, owner of Mountain Vista Homes, in conjunction with general contractors Bollinger Construction, Shane Covey Custom Construction & Cabinets, Huber Homes and Roberts Construction.
What’s available? Most of the 24 lots in the first phase (10 acres) have sold, but 42 lots on an adjacent 17 acres are just beginning development. Lot sizes range from 12,500 to 15,900 square feet.
Costs: Building lots begin at $85,900. Home prices range between $350,000 and $425,00, with most between $369,000 to $390,00.
Info: Call broker Laurie Carlson at 393-9010 or visit madisonacres.com.
— Mike Irwin, World staff
“This isn’t business as usual,” smiled McDaniel. “Instead of tough competition, instead of being at each other’s throats, we’re cooperating to make this one of the best subdivisions around. It’s a mutual effort, and it looks like it’s paying off.”
The cooperative effort comes none too soon for area developers and builders who for more than four years have suffered through uncertain times — a burst housing bubble, falling home prices, tightening credit and rising unemployment across the industry.
Madison Acres’ first phase — 10 acres, 24 building lots — kicked off in May. Since then, nearly all of the lots have sold, eight homes are nearing completion and four more are underway. The Cassidys, two of Madison Acres’ first buyers, could move into their new home as early as the first week of March.
Phase two — 17 acres, 42 lots — has reached final planning stages. In coming weeks, cul-de-sacs will be reworked into street extensions and building lots staked out. Laurie Carlson, a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker in Wenatchee, is already holding weekly open houses in a partially-finished model home.
“There’s definitely a synergy among these builders that I don’t recall having seen before,” said Carlson. “And I think it shows in the (development’s) street layouts, in the homes’ comfortable designs and even in the buying and building process for the customer. It’s a much smoother process.”
East Wenatchee builder Shane Covey agreed. As one of four other contractors working on Madison Acres’ homes, he said he’s seen a blend of building skills from former competitors that helps speed projects and increases quality.
He noted a nearby 4-foot retaining wall that separates higher lots from backyards on a lower level. “We all pitched in and got it done in record time,” he said. “I think we were all surprised and amazed.”
Covey is building a home for his mother, Sandy Covey. She said her home’s design exemplifies Madison Acres’ “flexibility and serendipity” in avoiding the usual cookie-cutter look of most subdivisions. Huge windows, a flat shed roof line, an artist’s workspace and a pet-washing station are just some of the custom touches incorporated into her home’s design.
McDaniel, who bought the Sunnyslope property in 2006, said he wasn’t sure then what would happen to the land after the economy began slowing and the housing market shriveled just two years later.
“In 2009, 2010 and 2011, we could build beautiful homes, sure,” he said. “But we couldn’t give them away.”
Then in early 2012, McDaniel said he began to sense a shift in the local economy and housing market. “Things seemed to be picking up slowly but surely. I looked at Madison Acres, took a deep breath and said, OK, let’s give it a shot.”
The groundbreaking took place May, McDaniel said, and he soon convinced a handful of builders that joining together could bring much-needed production and profits. By summer’s end the development was humming with activity. It’s maintained that pace right through winter.
“It’s been heartening to see excavators and carpenters back at work, doing what they do best,” he said.
Mike Irwin: 665-1179
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