Essex Homes revives halted Mint Hill subdivision
When Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly spoke with Linda Strunk in January 2010, the Mint Hill resident’s house was the only occupied home in Belle Grove Manor. In fact, the Strunks lived in one of just two completed houses in the subdivision near the intersection of Lebanon and Matthews-Mint Hill roads.
Construction in Belle Grove Manor came to an abrupt halt when the recession hit and the neighborhood’s previous builder, Dublin Homes, went bankrupt several years ago. The nearly vacant subdivision became a site where individuals illegally dumped heaping piles of trash, including broken TVs and toilets. The other completed home was broken into at least three times during that time.
“As the houses were being built, stuff was left in them,” said John Hoard, a planner with the Town of Mint Hill. “People would break in and steal that stuff. That was (one of the problems) we faced.”
The Strunks, who moved into Belle Grove in March 2009, even installed surveillance outside their home to catch criminals on camera. Living alone and surrounded by trash was discouraging. “We really want neighbors,” Strunk told the Weekly in 2010.
And thanks to Essex Homes, Strunk may be getting her wish for more neighbors very soon. A private, family-owned and operated construction company based in Columbia, S.C. Essex bought 30 of the 31 bank-owned vacant lots in late 2011. So far the company has sold nine lots. The all-brick homes will be 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, priced at an average of $300,000.
The Charlotte branch of Essex Homes has constructed 15 neighborhoods, including Canterbury Place in Matthews and subdivisions in Indian Trail, Weddington, Waxhaw, Wesley Chapel and Monroe. Belle Grove Manor is the first Essex Homes subdivision in Mint Hill.
“It’s certainly a good thing for people living there,” Greg Stallard, vice president and general manager of Essex Homes, said. “They won’t be so isolated.”
Purchasing the lots at a bulk rate gave Essex an advantage when taking over Belle Grove Manor, he said. Working within a development that has already been zoned and established also has helped the process go easier and more quickly.
Because Belle Grove homes operate on septic tanks, each area had to be tested to ensure adequate accommodations for each lot, which has slightly delayed construction. But Stallard says development is ready to get off the ground. Groundbreaking has already begun on six lots and “people can expect to see a lot of activity in the next 30 days,” he said.
Strunk is excited to see the neighborhood finally turning around. The subdivision’s second house has been occupied for about a year, she said.
“I think it’s really looking up,” Strunk said. “There have been a lot of people riding by, checking out (the lots). The bottom line is the development is reviving.”
So far, Essex Homes has not done any marketing to promote the Belle Grove Manor homes, other than signs within the neighborhood. Stallard believes excitement within the community and word of mouth will quickly fuel the sales of the remaining lots.
“Based on the current sales pace, I would not be shocked to see us sell out this year,” Stallard said. “The demand is high for that location and product.”