Southwind opens gates for tour – The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Southwind opens gates for tour – The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
The home of Marolyne and Guy Goodall will be on today's tour of Southwind properties that are for sale. They range in size from zero-lot-line homes to estate-size properties, with prices starting below $300,000. (Photo by: Dave Darnell - The Commercial Appeal)

By Don Wade


Memphis Commercial Appeal


Sunday, June 28, 2009


Seven years ago when Jerry West moved from Los Angeles to become president of basketball operations for the Grizzlies, he bought the Quantum House II in Southwind for $3,550,000.


West retired two years ago and the house remains for sale at a list price of $3,999,000.


Jerry’s old house has about 15,000 square feet and its 16 rooms include six full bathrooms and six fireplaces. But the 527-house Southwind development also has homes with less than 3,000 square feet and homes listed for less than $300,000. There are estates and there are zero-lot homes.


But the statistics that matters are these: 60 homes, or 11.38 percent of those 527 houses, are for sale. Since Jan. 1 of this year, four sales have closed and there are seven contracts pending. Additionally, there have been a half-dozen or so bank-owned sales or relocation property transfers.


“It’s a very challenging real estate market,” said Mark Jennings, president of Southwind’s Residential Properties Association board. “There are fewer buyers and homes stay on the market longer.”


Today from 2 to 5 p.m., 37 of the homes will be available for tour when Southwind opens its 24-hour manned gates to the general public, something that is rarely done. (West’s former house is not among the homes on the tour).


“We wanted to raise the profile because the general public doesn’t get to drive through,” Jennings said. “The majority of home owners don’t want to open the gates except in a controlled setting.


“But we think when people drive through they’ll have a very positive reaction,” said Jennings, who is an executive with FedEx. “Southwind is a beautiful place to live.”


The latest figures from the National Association of Realtors showed home sales rose 2.4 percent in May, but the median sales price of $173,000 was 16.8 percent below where it was a year ago.


“Because of the downturn in the economy and real estate market, the board feels we need to do some things to remind the public — and agents — that Southwind is a great place to live,” said Judy Piovarcy, chairperson of the resident association’s real estate ad hoc committee and an agent with Crye-Leike.


The Southwind development is built around the Tournament Players Club golf course, which is the site of the St. Jude Classic. Other club amenities include tennis courts and a swimming pool.


“A lot of higher-end properties have things that make them unique,” Piovarcy said.


“We think being on the golf course is attractive. It’s calm.”


The main entrance to Southwind is on Hacks Cross Road north of Winchester. At, the location is described as being “nestled between Germantown and Collierville.”


Southwind, however, is in neither. Currently, residents only pay county taxes. But Piovarcy says that they will begin paying city taxes in 2014.


“It doesn’t seem to affect people buying in Central Gardens or East Memphis in the River Oaks area,” Piovarcy said.


But Piovarcy, Jennings and others do have concerns about the perceptions of Southwind’s location.


Just a few years ago, any mention of “Southwind” automatically communicated the upscale housing development by the golf course that was the site of an annual PGA tour stop.


But now with the Southwind name on everything from public schools to a dry cleaners to a liquor store, there is a new marketing challenge.


“We’re 6 miles from Hickory Hill and Winchester and sometimes it’s perceived as being right out our back gate,” Piovarcy said. “And it’s not true.”


Marsha Cobb, 61, so enjoys living in Southwind that she is now in her fourth house in the last 19 years. She lived in the Quantum House before West and has lived in a villa.


Now, she lives in a house formerly owned by pro golfer Loren Roberts. What she likes best, she says, is the safety and community Southwind affords. She’s active in the garden club, a Bible study, and a dinner group.


“I like it better than ever,” she said. “When I go out of the neighborhood I go east; I don’t go right on Winchester because it’s not as safe.


“But inside the gates, it’s its own private community. I think it’s a great hidden secret.”


Too much of a secret. Which is why last year the residential board launched an infrastructure improvement project that included paving roads, upgrading signs and landscaping, even replacing every resident’s mailbox.


“We spent probably $400,000 last year and probably will spend a similar amount this year,” Jennings said.


Piovarcy says Southwind’s competition for buyers comes from all over the area — from Mud Island to Central Gardens to new construction in Fayette County.


“Eads is absolutely gorgeous,” she said, but Southwind’s proximity to the airport and Downtown via 385 and the interstate give it advantages over the housing options beyond Shelby County.


“We have residents that are on their third or fourth home here,” Piovarcy said. “It says a lot for the staying power of the community.”


But more than 11 percent of the community’s homes being up for sale says something, too. Which is why multiple real estate companies have come together for today’s open house.


Said Jennings: “I hope we don’t wait two years to do the next one.”


–Don Wade: 529-2358