This story was originally published in the 2016 January/February issue of Chattanooga Magazine.
Black Creek Mountain, Lookout Valley
Drive 10 minutes west of Chattanooga and you will find the master planned community of Black Creek Mountain and Black Creek Club, recently ranked among the top 100 residential golf courses in the United States by Golfweek Magazine.
Black Creek Mountain has also been named in the top 50 best master planned communities in the nation by Where to Retire Magazine. Resort-style amenities have always been the draw for this residential community, where as many as 30 percent of homebuyers are from out of town.
Tom Fous, vice president of Southern Land Company says there’s nothing like it in East Tennessee. “Master planned communities like Black Creek Mountain provide flexibility for the developer and create more innovative ideas for the home owner, says Fous. “It also allows for 10-15 years of growth.” And, as the city grows, so grows Black Creek Mountain.
“Now that the real estate market is coming back, we are showing the properties frequently “ says Barry Valcarcel, principal broker. People moving to Chattanooga are interested in outdoor activities, they both agree. Chattanoogans, too, have moved to Black Creek—the convenience for downtown professionals and the amenities are “unmatched in the city.” In fact, he says three recent purchases have been made by people who are downsizing from custom homes in Black Creek to move into Black Creek’s condominium community. “That says a lot about the place,” he adds.
[pullquote] “Master planned communities provide flexibility for the developer and create more innovative ideas for the home owner.”
The clubhouse was recently renovated and expanded to create a 10,000-square-foot lodge style building that includes a full-size commercial kitchen, private dining room, main dining room and cocktail lounge. It offers stunning panoramic views of the golf course and Lookout Mountain beyond. The design features five function spaces for small intimate gatherings, formal dinners or cocktail parties. The club expansion and stylish makeover, completed in 2013, includes the private dining room which opens out onto an adjoining veranda—ideal for professional events and wedding receptions. The full service club is open three to four nights weekly depending on the season and offers both casual and private dining service. Chef Matt Pinner, formerly with The Broad Street Grille at The Chattanoogan, uses locally grown foods and supports sustainable agriculture.
At Black Creek Mountain, three new phases of development are underway, two in The Ridges and the recently launched elevation property known as The Knoll, rising to the top of the mountain. The selection of architecturally classic single-family homes in the Ridges will be both alley and front entry garage homes. They range from 1,500 square-feet to 3,000 square-feet and start in the low $200’s to the upper $300’s. The homes have amazing views of Raccoon, Aetna and Lookout Mountains and are surrounded by hardwood forests. There are four miles of hiking trails that are to be expanded as The Ridges and The Knoll grow.
As phase one of the Ridges nears completion, The Knoll will soon begin development as the two-mile extension of River Gorge Drive continues up the mountain. With 60 home sites, some featuring views of Chattanooga and others with a closer look at nearby mountains, The Knoll will have amenities of its own. The plan for the top of the mountain includes large custom homes. The common spaces will have community gardens, playgrounds and a pool. It also includes acreage for a possible elementary school.
Timothy W. Downey is founder and CEO of Southern Land Company. Southern Land is a Franklin, Tennessee-based real estate development company with projects in five states. Downey started Southern Land Company in Chattanooga in 1986, and moved its headquarters to Nashville in the early 2000s. Downey is a 1977 graduate of Hixson High School. In a March 2015 article, Downey told Nashville Business Journal reporter Adam Sichko, “I love the creativity part of real estate. That’s what got me into the business. My biggest inspiration is Disney.”
Wild Ridge, Signal Mountain
Atop Signal Mountain lies an incorporated town of the same name only minutes from Chattanooga and that is where the Wild Ridge neighborhood is located. Signal Mountain has been rated the Best Small Town for Raising Children by Bloomberg Business Week and is known for having the highest ranked schools in Tennessee.
The neighborhood is nestled in a hardwood forest laced by wildflower meadows, and here on the mountaintop, conservation issues are taken seriously.
“You’ve got to work with nature,” says Jack Kruesi, CEO of Bevis Rope Company and developer of Wild Ridge. “By avoiding the use of a traditional sewer system we have saved thousands of trees on these 199 lots, not to mention returning cleaner water to the environment.” Kruesi is an avid conservationist who is interested in low-impact projects.
The homes at Wild Ridge incorporate efficiencies comparable to Earthcraft-certified homes, such as double glazed low-e windows and exceptionally high R-values. Each home is also equipped with solar components and wired for electric car charging. However, the stunning state-of-the-art wastewater management system- a Decentralized Waste Disposal system- is the truly rare for these parts. Each home has its own tank and filtering system, processing water that is pumped to a central facility, which releases a more pure effluent back into the surrounding woodlands. The Water & Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) of Hamilton County owns and maintains the system. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highly recommends the process. Homeowners may track their home’s water usage via an App on their personal devices.
Kruesi says the catch phrase “Partnering with Nature for People” only begins to describe how the 124-acre Wild Ridge has designated 113 acres to remain in forest, setting the bar high for responsible living on the mountain. There is also a 51-acre nature park adjoining the property and serving as a buffer. Yet, these homes are only 1.25 miles from the Signal Mountain Middle/High School and Nolan Elementary.
“People living here care about school systems and sustainability,” says Vice President of Sales, Julie Beach. The family-sized homes in all three neighborhoods- the Cottages, the Retreat and the Hemlock- range from $379,000 to $509,000. The square footage ranges from 1,836 to 2,714, with floor plans that maximize the interior space while leaving the exterior as natural as possible. Builder-designer Mike Moon, who grew up on Signal Mountain, will also create custom homes for residents, who for whatever reason, cannot find perfection in the nearly 175 home designs available from Moon for these communities. Each community sports a covered pergola near the round-about for activities and the signs and natural benches located throughout Wild Ridge have been commissioned and created by local artists. Residents will make use of Signal Mountain’s large public pool, as well as its popular arts and community facilities.
Many native plants and wildflowers have been relocated for preservation, during the building of Wild Ridge. A comprehensive study of tree species was completed by a licensed state forester. The roadways, built from recycled asphalt, include a roundabout that was actually moved six feet to accommodate the oldest chestnut oak tree in the area, as a result of the inventory.
For the convenience of the active families who care about the environment and have little free time, Wild Ridge has attractive lifestyle features integrated into its design. These include an outdoor Paracourse and exercise trail, plus four additional miles of hiking trails, community garden options and of course nature’s own playground- creeks and boulders.
Cameron Harbor, Downtown
Situated between Riverside Drive and the Tennessee Riverwalk extension, the luxury town-homes of Cameron Harbor have just been built on the riverbank. The in-town river community has several different design options at a wide range of price points. The variety and location are distinctive qualities for phase three of this new development that is drawing empty nesters from all over the region. The effort was a first-time collaboration of Cameron Harbor LLC and Nashville based Evergreen Real Estate. Buck Schimpf is the developer of the luxury property.
“It’s all coming together,” he says. “When it’s finished there will be about a thousand people living on the waterfront.” With all the activities at nearby Ross’ Landing throughout the year, residents wil never find themselves wanting for something to do. Hiking, biking and boating are all here within the heart of downtown. Combine that with an abundance of exceptional restaurants nearby, shopping in Warehouse Row and along Chattanooga’s Northshore and you have one of the most distinctive communities in the South.
This neighborhood of quiet streets and homes with private garages, low maintenance exteriors and energy efficiencies throughout has the city for an exciting back yard. The overall design creates a cohesive, organic streetscape.
Owners will be able to enjoy private piers and boat slips managed by MarineMax in this waterfront community. The boat slips will be secure, metered and have EPB power and fiber. Aside from the riverfront slips, the nearest marina to downtown is Brown’s Ferry, several miles downriver.
The luxury townhome component was designed by River Street Architecture’s Rob Fowler, who good naturally calls the style :Tennessee Coastal.” The site general contractor is Mike Kuebler of Embark and Dexter White Construction is building the townhome complex.
The town-homes have white oak hardwood flooring, quartz countertops, jetted tubs and heated floors in the master baths. Jenn-Air kitchen appliances, custom cabinets, skylights, solid core interior doors and gas fireplaces inside match the amenities on the private decks, where outdoor fireplaces and beverage centers take the party outside. Elevators and incredible near movie theater-quality soundproofing are all standard in these. It is a unique address in the city, adds Schimpf.
The property includes a hotel and will soon have its own restaurant. Three of the town-homes had been sold by the end of the year. The strong resurgence of the luxury real estate market in Chattanooga has been encouraging to Real Estate Partners. Owner/Agent Darlene Brown says, “This is a great reflection of Chattanooga’s housing market and the city’s nationally recognized quality of life.”
Story by Miles Baker
Photography Courtesy of Black Creek Mountain; David Andrews, Wild Ridge and Cameron Harbor