(Written by Bill Lewis for The Tennessean–Sunday, January 5, 2014)
Scott and Elisabeth DeWitt were looking for warmer weather when they moved from Michigan to Sumner County. Living on the shore of Old Hickory Lake just minutes from downtown Nashville was a welcome bonus.
“I can look at the water, and we have deer running around. But we’re 15 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from downtown,” said Scott DeWitt.
Home builders are preparing for more new residents like the DeWitts to arrive in Sumner County from other states and other locations in Tennessee. Hundreds of new homes are under construction or in the planning stages in Hendersonville and Gallatin, the two largest cities in the county.
The county is poised for growth similar to what has taken place in Rutherford, Williamson and Wilson counties, said Jimmy Johnston, president and CEO of Forward Sumner, an economic development organization.
“Sumner has been overlooked a little bit,” Johnston said. “Having said that, we want to be part of that (growth) conversation.”
Alternative to Williamson County
New residents are attracted by attributes including good schools, short commutes to downtown Nashville, convenient shopping and entertainment opportunities and affordable living, he said. Many, like the DeWitts, want to live near Old Hickory Lake.
“We’re the county with the water,” Johnston said.
The DeWitts had their home built by Gallatin-based Goodall Homes, one of the region’s most active home builders. The company is preparing to build 300 homes in the newly developed Carellton subdivision at Long Hollow Pike and Big Station Camp Boulevard in Gallatin.
Lennar Homes, a national builder, has acquired 200 home sites in Carellton. Creekside Homes, based in Oakland, Tenn., has 70 lots in the subdivision.
“Logistically, it’s great for people who work in Davidson County. It’s a straight shot down I-65,” said Andy Pfeifer, president of Lennar’s Nashville division.
Lennar’s homes in Carellton will have 2,000 to 3,000 square feet and have base prices in the low- to mid-$200,000 range, Pfeifer said.
With granite, hardwoods, ceramic tile and 9-foot ceilings, he said, they would have many desired amenities “without as high a price point as Williamson County.”
Price ‘sweet spot’
Goodall has plans for 180 single-family homes in Carellton, as well as 64 villas and possibly 62 condominiums. Prices have not been finalized but may range from the low- to mid-$200,000s for single-family homes, a price range the company believes is in demand in Sumner County, said Vice President Chris O’Neal.
“It’s a sweet spot,” he said.
This year, Goodall plans to begin construction of Millstone, a master-planned community of more than 600 homes off Saundersville Road in Hendersonville.
“It’s one of the largest developments that have taken place in a long time,” O’Neal said. “It’s going to be spectacular.”
The community will have 420 single-family houses and 194 villas, cottage homes and townhomes. Amenities will include a resort-style pool, a pavilion, a fitness center, a community lake, a playground and a walking trail.
Goodall expects to open a model home this spring at the Retreat at Fairvue, a cottage home community in Gallatin’s Greensboro Village area adjacent to Green Lea Boulevard. The homes will be similar to those the company offers in the Cottage Grove community in Goodlettsville, which straddles the Sumner-Davidson county line.
Homes in the Retreat at Fairvue will feature wide doorways, zero-step entries and private courtyards and are designed to appeal to homeowners who want less space to maintain.
“There are so many people who want to downsize and want one-level living,” O’Neal said.
Lake is a big draw
Goodall also offers luxury villas in the Foxland Harbor golf community on the shore of Old Hickory Lake. The villas offer one-level living and are designed as two conjoined single-family homes.
Sumner County’s appeal is easy to see, said Tommy Jarratt, principal broker for Gallatin-based Southeastern Building Corp. The company has built 1,200 homes, mostly in the Gallatin and Hendersonville areas.
Southeastern has homes in several subdivisions, including Kennesaw Farms, Stonecrest, Wynbrooke, Saundersville Station, Five Coves and Otter Pointe.
“The area has a small-town feel, but you have a lot of amenities. Plus, the lake,” Jarratt said.
James Wallace, whose company, Wallace Custom Builders, has been active in Sumner County for 14 years, said he is building several lakeside homes.
“Many of my current clients were drawn to Hendersonville or Gallatin because of Old Hickory Lake. They also like the feel of a small town with all of the conveniences of a larger community,” Wallace said.
In the year that they’ve owned their home, Scott and Elisabeth Dewitt have enjoyed the quality of life in Sumner County.
“We’re not from the South,” he said, “but we hurried to get here.”
(Here is the link to the actual article in The Tennessean: Lake Lures New Homebuyers