Despite the turmoil in the stock and credit markets, Drake Capital is pushing ahead with its massive housing development in Tega Cay.
"The Tega Cay/Fort Mill submarket has weathered this downturn better than any other of the Charlotte submarkets," project manager Jeff LeForce said. "It has slowed some, but given the school system and lower property taxes, access to I-77 and downtown Charlotte, it still has demand."
It's not a matter of if the homes will sell, but when, he said. One measure of the strength of the local market, school impact fees of $2,500 on every new home built in the district, would agree with LeForce's assessment. After a steep decline this summer from $230,000 collected in July to $57,500 in August, the trend reversed and York County collected $227,500 in impact fees for the Fort Mill School District in September.
"This is an 'A' location in an 'A' market," LeForce said.
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Formerly known as the Gardendale subdivision, Drake changed the name to Lake Ridge at Tega Cay, and is opening home sales in the first two sections of the development, according to LeForce. Toll Brothers is building 167 luxury homes that will cost $500,000 or more, and Tribute Homes will be building 180 ranch-style homes with lawn maintenance included aimed at the 55 and older crowd. The ranch home prices will start in the $180,000s.
"Toll Brothers is a luxury home builder that is beginning its sales efforts now. Their models will be up by Spring 2009," LeForce said. "They will be right across the street from our $3 million amenities center."
The amenity center will feature a 7,000-square-foot clubhouse, six-lane competition size pool, a kiddy pool with play structures, a tennis court, multipurpose court and a playground, LeForce said.
LeForce said volatility in the financial markets won't affect the project because funds were already in place to develop the land before Wall Street imploded.
However, Drake may be in the area a little longer than originally expected.
"Our original projection was five to six years," he said. "Now we're looking more like seven or eight."
Some other nationally-known builders are interested in the neighborhood, but are stalled from moving forward because of the market troubles, he added.
"Right now, we have two quality builders and we're pleased with that," LeForce said.
In addition to the two sections now under development, Drake also plans to open a bring-your-own builder section for custom homes on 79 half-acre or larger lots in the eastern section of the development. That section will be opening during Lake Ridge's second phase, currently scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2009.