DP Fox Building Saddleback Village

June 21, 2002
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ADA—Saddleback is about getting back, and letting buyers decide exactly how they will get there.

DP Fox Ventures LLC, a diversified management company developing the project, is calling Saddleback Village a throwback, an affordable residential development that promises friendly, neighborhood-style living usually not found in a woodsy suburban setting.

The firm adds that Saddleback won’t offer the cookie-cutter sameness of home styles that line the streets of many new developments. Instead, buyers will design their own homes and once a style is taken from the inventory, it becomes no longer available – a feature that DP Fox feels makes a Saddleback home the closest thing to a custom-built house.

Mountain Ridge Development LLC, a subsidiary of DP Fox, is building Saddleback Village as a master-planned neighborhood of 31 homes on twenty acres of land near the intersection of Michigan Street and Crahen Avenue in the Forest Hills School District.

“We’re trying to get a period-look, a period-architecture, we call it. We’re trying to create homes that resemble some of the older, traditional neighborhoods that you see around East Grand Rapids and even the Grand Rapids-area,” said David Schermer, general manager of Mountain Ridge, an Ada-based designer and builder.

“Then there is the neighborhood itself, the setting that we’re trying to create with the street lights and the sidewalks and the village green, the common area,” he added. “We’re trying to promote interaction. Trying to make the focus more interactive than some of the newer neighborhoods that are just kind of sprawled-out houses without much connection between neighbors.”

To accomplish that, Mountain Ridge is building the houses a few feet closer to the street than most new projects have done in the past. Front yards will be smaller, but backyards will be larger, creating a layout found in most urban neighborhoods. Seven acres, nearly a third of the total acreage, will be green-space.

“We’re trying to create a traditional neighborhood by incorporating land planning, architectural planning and quality construction,” said Schermer.

At Saddleback Village, buyers actually design their homes. Using software from Home Ensemble, buyers choose a building site, an architectural plan and an interior package that fits their budget and lifestyle. Over fifty elevations and eight floor plans are available. Colonial, Tudor, Bungalow and American Four Square are a few of the traditional home styles that can be chosen.

All homes are two stories with 2,200 square feet to 3,200 square feet on the main and upper levels. Buyers can design more space into the lower level and above the garage. Mountain Ridge offers building plans and interior packages at three different price levels that range from $375,000 to $500,000.

“Saddleback Village has 31 home sites, so there will be 31 families living there. There are fifty plans they can choose from. So there are fifty named looks, house elevations that they can pick from. Once a plan is picked, it’s pulled-out of the inventory, so no two families are going to have the same house,” said Schermer.

“From there, we’re offering kind of a good-better-best scenario, where buyers can upgrade into these pre-designed architectural packages for interiors. And by doing that, we’re allowing people to go through and pick things and get immediate feedback on the cost, because these are pre-designed, pre-sourced and pre-priced options,” he added.

The design process being used is a first for the market, and it gives buyers the experience of a custom-built home without the hassles of having to coordinate everything. Saddleback Village is being marketed to families with school-age children and empty nesters, who likely grew-up in the type of setting being recreated in the village.

“We’re getting a lot of good response from the public. We’ve got seven reservations already and we’re just putting roads in,” said Schermer.

Home Ensemble is providing the architectural plans, the selection software and assisting Mountain Ridge in designing the interior packages. Mountain Ridge will build the homes and design the landscaping. Schermer said a buyer can go from designing a home to taking possession in about six months.

“We’ve hired Home Ensemble to provide the professional interior decorating and architectural plans. We’ve sourced the best products that we’ve learned about over the last fifteen years with packaged software so buyers don’t have to go through that experience,” said Schermer. “But they still can have a one-of-kind, unique home and make it fit their budget.”

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