New Single Family Home in Olde Towne East a Departure for Lifestyle Communities
Lifestyle Communities has built a new single family home in the heart of Olde Towne East, but don’t expect the local developer to start snapping up vacant lots all over the neighborhood any time soon.
“This is more about a strategic approach to development, and going through the execution of what we need to do in order to fit into and enhance a neighborhood,” said Sam Stark, VP of Real Estate Sales for Lifestyle Communities (LC). “This happens to be one single family home, but to us, it’s still a development project, and we want to see if we get it right.”
“This is an opportunity to learn how a project like this can translate within Columbus, but also to other markets,” added Colin Rice, Brand Marketing Director. He explained that an upcoming project in Louisville — one that calls for a mix of apartments and homes — could be a chance to take what the company has learned from this house and apply it on a larger scale.
Stark said that they are planning a series of open houses to get feedback on the design and layout of the 2,900 square foot house, which sits at the northeast corner of Oak Street and Monroe Avenue. They will likely build more in the future, although this one is a special case, being a single lot surrounded by existing, historic houses.
“If we had two, three, five acres, would we build this house, if it fit in the neighborhood? For sure,” he said, although the company has no plans to acquire or develop individual scattered parcels in urban neighborhoods; “that’s not scalable for a company like us.”
The front half of the house is meant to blend in with the ornate brick homes up and down the street, most of which were built over 100 years ago. Decorative brickwork on the outside and details like a herringbone-pattern oak floor on the inside help to sell the idea that it’s a historic home with a modern rear addition.
Stark said that even some of the sub-contractors working on the house mistook it for a renovation job. Building on a small lot in an urban neighborhood has not been without its challenges, though.
“There was a lot of thought that went into this house, to make it feel like it’s been here, but there were a lot of things we had to learn,” said Stark, giving as an example a utility pole that had to be moved after construction had started. “Building in a greenfield is a lot different than building in an urban neighborhood…we had to be prepared to figure those things out, and to learn.”
“It’s time consuming, and expensive, but we feel the market values these things,” added Stark. “When people initially traced this back to us and figured out that LC was building on this lot, they probably thought, ‘Oh no, what are they going to do?’ But the response we’ve had so far from the neighbors has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The unveiling of the house at Oak and Monroe coincides with a rebranding of LC’s real estate brokerage.
Originally established as Lifestyle Real Estate Services in 2004, the business started out as a utilitarian service that allowed the company to list its many condominiums on the MLS.
As the company’s focus shifted in response to the recession — Stark said they went from building 600 condos a year to building over 1,000 apartment units a year — the in-house brokerage started helping tenants who were leaving their apartments and looking to buy a home.
Photos provided by Lifestyle Communities.