As Jon Hardy looks out over the lake at Tree Tops by Lennar, it’s clear he has a vision for the active-adult-focused housing for those age 55 and older taking shape in Lancaster, South Carolina. And the lake is a central point, not just geographically, but also for the kind of lifestyle he has in mind for residents.
“A lot of builders would have gone ahead and built homes around the lake and sold it as individual lots,” said Hardy, Lennar division president. “But it was prudent to keep it like it is – an open and common area. And residents have been grateful we made that decision.”
The approximately 800-home subdivision began construction in 2015 and started selling homes in May of 2016. There are about 120 homes already sold, meaning more than 10 percent of the project is filled. Hardy said he’s pleased with that rate of sales.
And in an effort to boost interest, Tree Tops is in the process of refinishing and refurbishing ten lakeside cabins that existed on the land many years ago as part of a former summer camp for children.
“The camp went bankrupt and the company bought the cabins in March of 2015,” Hardy said. “We considered eliminating them entirely but then after we decided to keep the lake for community use we thought – what will we have there without the cabins? Really we decided they were irreplaceable.”
Today the cabins have all been renovated with a theme or use in mind. One is a post office, one a yoga and Tai Chi studio, one a craft room complete with sewing machines for community use and one a small library.
“The celebration cabin will have coffee pots and people doing Tai Chi on the deck outdoors,” Hardy said. “It’ll have wine racks and be a place to hang out. We will have yoga instructors come in a few nights a week and we have outside Tai Chi instructors as well.”
In addition to the lake, the centerpiece of the 612-acre development is a large community center called The Tree House, still under construction. For now, one of the lakeside cabins holds treadmills and recombinant bicycles for residents to use while working out. But after the Tree House is completed, Hardy said the exercise equipment will move there.
Veronica Perez, director of sales and marketing for Lennar Charlotte said the Tree House should be completed by 2018.
“People show up and they see these cabins on the tour and they realize the whole slogan of country quiet and city close comes to life right here at the cabins,” Perez said.
In addition to the active-lifestyle focus, Hardy said homeowners are pleased with the location of Tree Tops, too.
Hardy also said doctors’ offices and Harris Teeter are nearby. But the outdoor connection is the real draw.
“Over half of this site is going to be right in nature,” Hardy said. “The lake was already here and we just paved the path around it. We made the path wide enough for two couples to walk side by side. We built a fishing pier, too.
Hardy said the company had built enough neighborhoods in Lancaster to know they should pay attention to certain details other builders might overlook.
“We did make sure to do things like those trail systems up front early on to get the physical activity they desire,” he said.
And Hardy said he doesn’t expect the slowly increasing interest rates to impact the rate of sales at the project.
“The interest rates are creeping up but I’m not worried about that,” he said. “This is the greatest generation and they saved money when they needed and about 15 percent often are paying cash. And some of them had an 8 or even 10 percent mortgage earlier in their life so they aren’t concerned with that.”
Prices start in the $290s and can go as high as the $500s. The average price right now is $355,000.