DeSoto residential developments make new marketing push – Memphis Business Journal, Memphis, TN USA

DeSoto residential developments make new marketing push – Memphis Business Journal, Memphis, TN USA
On August 4, 2009 Ron & Nancy Guy hosted an open house at Charleston Rowe for agents that was attended by about 200 brokers.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Memphis Business Journal – by Christopher Sheffield | 259-1726


After five years and a few setbacks, one of DeSoto County’s largest and most exclusive speculative residential developments in Hernando is poised to make another push.


The developers of Charleston Rowe and Beacon Hill recently signed a marketing agreement with Crye-Leike, Inc., affiliate brokers Ron Guy and Nancy Guy to try and move 28 of the lots in the separate but joined developments, says developer Jim Seay. Seay started the project about five years ago with architect Doug Thornton and builder Ray Dennison. Thornton exited the project several years ago.


Seay is the remaining partner of the 10-acre Charleston Rowe development, while Dennison remains a partner in the 20-acre Beacon Hill.


Seay (pronounced SEE) purchased the woody, rolling property that makes up the two developments located on the west side of Highway 51 north of Hernando in separate deals for around $1 million more than six years ago, he says.


He and his partners have since invested almost $4 million to develop the site that includes several parks for green space, a natural creek with pedestrian bridges, walking trails and buried utilities, Seay says.


In Charleston Rowe, lot sizes range from one-third acre to 1.2 acres with listed prices ranging from $90,000 to $125,000 per lot. Homes are expected to range from $600,000 to $1.2 million.


Beacon Hill lots are about one third of an acre and list for $70,000 with homes expected to list for $300,000-$400,000 and average 2,500 square feet.


For Seay, who has renovated and redeveloped some of the oldest properties in Hernando and is chairman of the Hernando Preservation Commission, the size and square footage of homes in the developments is not as important as quality of construction and architectural integrity.


“Doug, Ray and I set out to change the direction building and developing was going in DeSoto County,” he says.


The developers have a thick, detailed list of covenants for builders and residents to back it all up, including approved building materials, placement of garages, how long cars can remain in front of homes, landscaping, lighting and more.


The group traveled around the country to some of the most exclusive developments in the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia to see what worked.


“We wanted something that would set a new standard for developing in DeSoto County,” Seay says. “We were very upset at how the county was using its raw material, which is land.”


City of Hernando deputy planning director Shelly Johnstone says Seay and his partners achieved their goal.


“It is a beautiful development,” she says. “The smartest thing they did was leave the mature tree canopy and the least amount of disturbance on the land. It’s certainly a product that we don’t have anything like.”


Charleston Rowe and Beacon Hill very much embrace the quality of building and attention to the physical surroundings Hernando is promoting.


“It embodies it in its physicalness,” she says. “We want the built environment to be durable and fit into what the mayor and board would like to develop.”


The broader, altruistic goal of Charleston Rowe and Beacon Hill was to create a development that would raise home appraisals and result in better homes overall.


The county has suffered from the perception that any type of building would be accepted by people fleeing Memphis and Shelby County, Seay says. That’s had a dramatic impact on what type of construction has taken place.


Builders said they stay out of DeSoto County because “we can’t get (good) appraisals for the homes we build,” Seay says.


Builder Dennison built the two current homes in Charleston Rowe and says they are beyond the quality and style of anything in the county, as much because of his own attention to detail as well as the demands of the development.


“We don’t want the everyday Joe house in there,” he says. “It has to be something that has its own signature.”


He and Seay constitute the plan review committee and plan to be stringent on all proposals.


The goal of raising the bar on appraisal values occurred with Charleston Rowe’s first home, a 5,000-square-foot property that sold for a record $144 per square foot when it was sold two years ago, Dennison says. The second home is 6,200 square feet under roof that sold for $650,000.


Raising the bar for speculative homes to that level won’t be easy, he says.


“We’ve got to stick to our guns,” he says. “It’s hard to get in DeSoto County, but we’ll get it.”


Crye-Leike broker Ron Guy says interest in DeSoto County homes has picked up in recent months. He and his wife and partner Nancy Guy just started working in DeSoto County six months ago, he says.


“There’s a lot of flight from Shelby County to DeSoto County,” he says.


On Aug. 4 Charleston Rowe hosted an open house for agents that Ron Guy said was attended by about 200 brokers.


He’s also working to encourage builders to check out the property and submit samples of their work and begin the review process for approval to build in the development.


“If it sounds like we’re being snooty, or selective, we are,” Ron Guy says, “because this is just not your typical subdivision.”


Charleston Rowe/Beacon Hill

Residential developments

Developers: Jim Seay, Ray Dennison

Address: Highway 51, Hernando

Listing agents: Ron Guy and Nancy Guy

Phone: (901) 233-9111


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