Nashvillians trade Florida for the mountains

Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 1:52am

For the Jenkins family, the vacation home is in their blood and will be for a long time.

It’s not their vacation home per se but the prospective one for whomever wants to buy a place on the Cumberland Plateau in their development — Stoneclift, in South Pittsburgh.

Jay Jenkins, his son also named Jay and his son’s wife Jacquie are developing the first phase of 50 lots of development that will include an outdoor amphitheatre, swimming pool, playing field, wireless Internet and other amenities.

The elder Jay is a developer from Atlanta. His son, who is involved only part-time, is first and foremost a coach and teacher at Montgomery Bell Academy, and his wife is an agent with Fridrich & Clark Realty with the property listed.

They, like other developers on the plateau and lakes across Tennessee, hope to tap into an ever-growing market for vacation homes.

For the past several years, the sales of vacation homes have helped fuel the real estate boom nationally.

While the overall market has slumped, demand for vacation homes hasn’t ebbed and may not for some time. Baby Boomers are driving sales of vacation homes they may later make their retirement spot.

“We really haven’t missed a beat,” said David Bohman, managing partner of the Nashville-based group doing Overton Retreat, a land development near McMinnville that’s been working for several years now. “Our prices have gone up and continue to go up.”

Last year, sales of vacation homes hit a record nationally, climbing to 1.07 million from 1.02 million in 2005, according to the association’s annual survey earlier this year. Homes for investment dropped sharply from 2.32 million to 1.65 million last year.

“Vacation is holding it’s own,” said Walter Molony, a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors, while the second-home for rental property is on the decline. Molony and others in the business said demographics and lifestyles would continue to drive the sales.

Most of the buyers are older, successful and aren’t affected by a credit crunch. The developers say most pay cash for the lots they buy.

“I’m not looking at a first-time homebuyer needing a 125 percent mortgage,” Jenkins said.

Local numbers are purely anecdotal since they are blended with other home sales in reports. Bohman said Overton Retreat has seven homes built, seven more under construction and another seven or so in design. He said work is underway for the second phase.

Lee Carter, a principal in the Nashville group developing Fanning Bend on Tims Ford Lake near Winchester, said 45 of the 80 lots in the first phase have sold.

As examples, those sales don’t seem like much but they are about on target with the developers’ expectations. Unlike typical single-family developments, vacation developments can take many years as opposed to 18 months where builders arrive with speculation homes.

“The successful ones sell over a period of maybe 10 years,” said Lynn Stubblefield, owner of Cliffside Realty in Monteagle and considered the real estate dean on the mountain.

Stubblefield said building over time provides different ages and architecture, creating diversity. “That’s what makes it healthy,” she said.

With 600 acres or so on the plans for Stoneclift, the development may pass to the next Jenkins generation. “There’s enough land out here to keep us busy for awhile,” the younger Jenkins said.

Lot prices can run from $50,000 for interior lots to more than $300,000 for bluff views or lakefront properties. The buyers aren’t necessarily spur of the moment.

“It takes someone three or four trips before they buy,” said Mike Nichols, a Fridrich & Clark Realty agent who has the Fanning Bend listing.

Buyers for vacation homes typically have a driving range of about 90 minutes from their primary residence, making places like the plateau, Central Hill Lake and Crossville, desirable for Nashvillians. Carter said there are buyers who went to Florida but are now looking closer to home.

“They are tired of the high insurance and travel time to Florida,” he said.

The biggest challenge on the plateau won’t be a lack of demand but a lack of supply. Monteagle is dealing with a water shortage and building permits are tough to get as a result. Several developers down were fined earlier this year by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for violations.

Stoneclift has city water from South Pittsburgh. “We’d be in a lot of trouble with that city water,” Jenkins said.

Filed under: City Business
By: BADCOPS on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The other day a woman on the radio from Florida tried this and hates TN. She wants to go back to Florida.TN does not have homestead exemption for the baby boomers. Taxes are high, health care is in the crapper and the crime is off the wall.The political corruption within the state will also drive everyone out. Baby boomers need to know there are competent people in government looking out for the needs, TN does not have that.How safe would a baby boomer be if they where to retire in Nashville area, the 7th most violent crime in the U.S. How safe are they when TN is ranked 9th for the worst state with STD'S. The nursing homes have one violation after the other, patients are neglected and dying as we speak. God forbid if one had to go into a public housing facility in Nashville area MDHA has convicted felons, drug dealers and crack heads lurking the apartments with guns.TN has nothing to offer a baby boomer other than the weather. I suggest they move to Cary N.C. where it is safer. TN is not the place.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

BADCOPS,I grew up in Nashville and my roots are deep,deep. It is still difficult to argue with some of your points. In addition the Cumberland Plateau is akin to a high hill not a mountain. Cary,North Carolina is a great place with a state income tax that is incredibly high.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This "story" is simply a long, badly written, ad for real estate in the Tennessee mountains. Doesn't THE CITY PAPER have important news to report?

By: crackcitytn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I agree with BC. We certainly do not get the safety or security one needs to be able to live safely through there elder years.I know people in the hill and mountains of TN and they say the crime is also unbelievable. Hidden meth labs etc and being so isolated anyone can hide in them thar woods for years without any law enforcement finding them, or caring to look for them.If you own a little shack in TN and are elderly or diabled the state will throw you out in a heart beat to collect for the medical but the state will pay for illegals and crack heads withpout them loosing a thing.Florida and Texas has more protection for the elderly/disable/baby boomers and TN has no protection for them whatsoever.Friends of mine that are elderly and disable can't get the police to remove the drug dealers from in front of their homes. The cops say move if you don't like it? What to give the crack dealers, gun shooting thugs free access to the streets which they have already.This is something that everyone needs to give thought to regarding not only themselves but for their elder relatives. Nashville is a night-mare and people need to wake up.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Its amazing how someone can take a story like this and end up blaming the police. LMAO! I LOVE NASHVILLE!!!!!

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Titan, there are folks who post just because they have pet peeves. Perhaps Crack was smokin' his name.

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

My pet peeve is wasting paper writing ads for folks and calling them stories. If you pick up a print version of NCP, no doubt one of the folks in this story will have a prominent display ad. Just like the Tennessean's new shopping guide highlighting businesses who advertise alone. Isn't that illegal or something?

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It’s also remarkable that someone could work “illegal immigrants” into a discussion of this puff piece masquerading as journalism.“Illegal immigrants” have replaced “terrorists” who replaced “pedophiles” who replaced “welfare mothers” who replaced “hippies” who replaced “Negroes” who replaced “godless commies” who replaced “Jews” who replaced “immigrants” as America’s enemy of choice. Maybe we will grow up to the point where we don’t need an enemy.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You are right on MJB. I travel the world and if any country has a deserved bad PR this country does. No matter what, this country is going to continue to have lots of enemies. Most created by our politicians stupidity and not because we need to "grow up"

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Yes, Frank, but politicians do it, because they get money, votes, & power when they create enemies. If we voted 'em out, then they'd stop creating enemies. We do get the politicians we deserve although the system is so complex & calcified that fixing it is very difficult.

By: jasonweaver on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Puff piece? Have you ever read this writer's stuff before? This reads like a snapshot more than anything, a feature story. I've been down to the "mountain" and know plenty who have bought there. There's never been a big discussion about crime problems because most live behind a gate and crime can't get in. They're more worried about water than anything else.It's a business story, not one about crime on the plateau, that looked at some people developing down there. I lurk but felt compelled to comment on this because the comments appear to come from people who have nothing else better to do.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Yes, Jason, I’ve read Richard Lawson's stuff for weeks now. It’s n.g. Look at the structure (try to avoid the egregious writing): We begin w/ people bringing “amenities” to beautiful land on the plateau. They are fueling a real estate boom. Vacation homes are selling well. Acres of forest are being plowed under for these “homes”. Does this piece examine how the water supply will be strained? Does it look into what the area will look like once it’s filled w/ vacation homes? Does it ask any environmentalists or planners how such building will affect the lake?No, it narrow-mindedly & clumsily says that there’re bucks to be made by putting “homes” in pretentiously names cloisters, cheek-by-jowl around our lakes.

By: jasonweaver on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Have you ever been on the plateau? I personally haven't seen acres of trees plowed. Looks me like they try to keep trees. I know of one development that was a forestry company operation and all the trees still make the place look like a tree farm. But that development too has been fined for environmental misdeeds. And the water shortage was dealt with toward the end of the story regarding challenges to the area. It seems to me that what you would have thought was a good story is one that discussed how the development was raping the land. It was a business story.Are you a writer by training or profession? It appears your view that it's egregious may actually show your bias against the subjects in the story. IMO