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Developers downsize homes to meet demand

Construction crews work on the Reserve at Asheton Lakes near Woodruff Road and Highway 14 in Simpsonville. The Cothran Properties’ development features smaller footprints and maintenance free living — a recent trend among Upstate residential developers. (Photo/Liz Segrist)
Construction crews work on the Reserve at Asheton Lakes near Woodruff Road and Highway 14 in Simpsonville. The Cothran Properties development features smaller footprints and maintenance-free living — a recent trend among Upstate residential developers. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

By Liz Segrist
Published Nov. 26, 2012

Some Upstate residential developers are trending toward building downsized, maintenance-free communities.

Cothran Properties and Dillard-Jones Builders currently have developments under construction in the Upstate. Rosewood Communities recently completed one such development and The Croft Co. plans to begin next year.

“What we’re seeing is a large segment of the population who wants to downsize and move toward more maintenance-free living without giving up quality in the process,” Cothran Properties President Mark Cothran said.

Cothran Properties, an Upstate commercial and residential development company, is developing townhome communities with smaller footprints and maintenance-free living, four of which currently are under construction throughout the Upstate.

Residential developers said the Upstate market for smaller homes or townhomes typically falls into three groups: the first-time buyer, the newly divorced adult or the empty nesters.

“These are people that want to move out of a big house or prefer something maintenance free and manageable,” Cothran said.

Dillard-Jones Builders recently opened The Cottage Group LLC, an Upstate residential construction company created specifically to meet the market desiring custom homes with smaller footprints.

“The baby boomers went through this economic change with the recession. Their priorities have changed,” President Tom Dillard of Dillard-Jones Builders said. “Many have had a big house and they’re looking to simplify their life a bit or they might be empty nesters looking to downsize.”

Taylors-based Rosewood Communities has seen the demand for smaller footprints as well. It recently finished its Greystone Cottages community in Greer, which offers roughly 1,400-square-foot cottages with no lawn maintenance. Nearly half of the lots have sold since July, Rosewood Communities President Mark Nyblom said.

The newly created Cottage Group offers a growing collection of house plans that includes the company’s own Cottage Group portfolio and some Southern Living house plans ranging from 2,000 to 3,500 square feet. The homes will have flexible floor plans. The price points range from the $300,000s to $600,000s.

The new company has several projects in the works, including four developments in Verdae and one called Rockwood at Augusta off Augusta Road in Greenville, as well as a project for a golf course community in Georgia.

“Over the past two years, I’ve received a great deal of feedback from the baby boomer generation that has wanted a high quality home and a smaller footprint,” Dillard said.

The Croft Co. is waiting on infrastructure approval from the city for a new single lot subdivision with a community green space at 701 E. McBee Ave., a few blocks from downtown Greenville. Tom Croft, the Croft Co. Inc. owner, plans to market these in the first quarter of 2013.

The eight, single-family homes will vary in size from 1,500 to 2,800 square feet. The lots will range from 2,100 to 4,100 square feet. These homes and lots will be sold as a package.

Croft, who has been in real estate development for 30 years, sees a lot of demand from young professionals and young couples wanting to have a small footprint close to downtown, in addition to the empty nesters and retired people looking to downsize.

The recession yielded a business opportunity for Cothran, who has been doing residential and commercial real estate development in Greenville since the mid-1980s. He bought several foreclosed neighborhoods following the recession and turned them into new developments with smaller footprints.

The most recent Cothran development, The Reserve at Asheton Lakes, began construction last month near Woodruff Road and Highway 14 in Simpsonville. The Townes at Thornblade off Thornblade Parkway near the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and Interstate 85 in Greer, was announced in August.

Sites for both communities should be ready for occupancy by spring. The sites include two-story townhomes ranging from 2,400 to 2,600 square feet. Amenities include maintenance, landscaped and irrigated grounds, private gated access, sidewalks and a community pool.

The Reserve at Plantation Greene, off Woodruff Road near I-85 and I-385, offers 2,000-square-foot townhomes and amenities including walking paths, a fishing pond and a lazy river pool. The Townes at Brookwood in Simpsonville offers single-family townhomes. Both sites are under construction.

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