Saturday, March 20, 2004

Water will connect homes of up to $2M

By Jeff McKinney
The Cincinnati Enquirer

• Where it is: Mason School District in Deerfield Township

• When it's going up: Starting in October

• What it costs: Custom-made homes to range from $700,000-$2 million

• What's unique: 1-mile waterways, $2 million recreation center, stone features, gazebos, bridges and waterfalls, hiking and biking trails. Connects to Cottell Park

• Who to contact: Hensley Homes, 509-7582, or Kurlemann Homes, 515-5123

Source: Robert C. Rhein Interests Inc.

Hoping to appeal to baby boomers with deep pockets, a Cincinnati developer is investing $33 million into land for 208 luxury homes at Long Cove in Deerfield Township.

The development in the Mason School District will feature houses starting at $700,000 and possibly reaching more than $2 million.

Long Cove is unique, developer Robert Rhein says, because it is Greater Cincinnati's first luxury housing development so tied to water - it will include one mile of connected, 150-foot-wide waterways with frontage on half the lots and access for fishing and boating.

Rhein's development company, Robert C. Rhein Interests Inc., is developing the project with the landowner, the Natorp Co.. Rhein, who developed Four Bridges in Liberty Township and Heritage Club in Mason with developer Ken Campbell , is confident the aesthetic appeal of water at Long Cove will help boost home values.

"Our vision is to create the finest new custom-home community that Greater Cincinnati has ever seen," Rhein said.

The company is investing $12 million in the first phase, including installing roads, waterways, utilities, landscaping and recreational amenities, said Alex Tarasenko, senior vice president at Rhein.

The landscaping will include stone features, waterfalls, wrought-iron fixtures, gazebos and preservation of the heavily wooded area along the main-entry boulevard.

A $2 million recreation center will have a 4,600-square-foot clubhouse, entertaining areas, a fitness center, two pools, a playground, a deck and picnic areas.

Brisk population growth in the suburbs north of Cincinnati has created a pool of potential buyers, Rhein says.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, about 20 percent of the households in Warren County had annual incomes of more than $100,000. The median annual household income of $57,063 in Mason was 67 percent higher than the regional median household income of $34,122 for Greater Cincinnati, Tarasenko said.

"Based on the growth of affluent households in Warren County, we're confident that a strong market exists for these homes," he said.

Lot prices will run from $160,000 up to $300,000 for the most expensive lots on the water. Lot sizes will be about half an acre.

Tarasenko said 194 of Long Cove's lots will be available to consumers. Fourteen homes that will range in cost from $1 million to $2 million will be featured at Homearama in June 2005.

Two custom-homebuilders - Kurlemann Homes of West Chester and Hensley Homes of Symmes Township - will buy most of the lots and resell them.

Bernie Kurlemann , president of Kurlemann Homes, said Long Cove will be his biggest project. He said his firm could spend a minimum of $20 million to buy about 90 of the lots.

Tim Hensley, president of Hensley Homes, said he also plans to buy 90 lots at Long Cove, for about $20 million. He said the Long Cove project will be his company's largest, based on home sales in one development, even topping the Abbington Ridge development in Indian Hill, where Hensley saw home sales of about $27 million.

Kurlemann said it was important to have just two builders involved with the project to maintain architectural integrity.

Each house will have some version of a classic architectural style, such as Italian, French, Southern Colonial, American Colonial, Georgian and Williamsburg, Kurlemann said.

Consumers will be able to choose from floor plans, elevations and architectural styles provided by the builders' architects. Or they can design their own homes, in conjunction with the builders' architects, subject to approval by Long Cove's design review committee.

"With each house, we will insist on architectural and landscaping excellence," Rhein said. "We believe the neighborhood will be unique to Cincinnati."


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