This article is originally written by Jason Scott of the Central Penn Business Journal and was first published on December 12, 2018.
A West Shore developer has started on a project that could accelerate home construction in the smallest and most rural municipality in the high-growth Cumberland Valley School District.
Last week, Wormleysburg-based Integrated Development Partners officially broke ground on a 128-home farmhouse- style community next to Allenberry Resort in Monroe Township, Cumberland County.
Dubbed The Porches of Allenberry, the new development near Boiling Springs is set to deliver up to 40 new homes per year over the next three to four years, starting in the spring, according to Integrated Development. Homes will start around the mid-$300,000s with Design Build Custom Construction of Dauphin serving as the exclusive builder.
Allenberry owner Mike Kennedy, one of the partners in the development company, said his goal is to build a project that can inspire a sense of community. He also believes buyer demand for new homes in Cumberland County remains strong — even as the broader housing market begins to show some signs of softening.
Rising home prices have started to level off in parts of the midstate and home sales have slowed, though Realtors say that has more to do with a lack of homes for sale.
Still, mortgage interest rates have been creeping up, which could be prompting some buyers to delay their search for a home or to look at lower-priced homes. Construction costs also are rising, which might make some new homes unaffordable for people trying to sell existing homes.
Despite those signs, Kennedy and his team believe their project’s connection to a newly renovated Allenberry and the lack of building activity in that part of Cumberland Valley — where home sales and prices have remained steady — will outweigh any broader housing slowdown.
“We believe there is demand for a community attached to a resort in Central Pa.,” Kennedy said. “We think we have a unique opportunity here. There seems to be a lot of pent-up demand for housing.”
That demand, if it pans out in sales, could also provide a big boost to the local tax base.
For quiet Monroe Township — home of about 6,000 people — this one housing project will exceed the residential building activity that the township normally sees in a year.
Indeed, the township has averaged about 20 residential building permits per year over the last 11 years. Monroe Township often gets overlooked by developers in favor of the other three townships in Cumberland Valley — Silver Spring, Hampden and Middlesex.
Suburban development west of Harrisburg has been going on for decades, spurring housing growth in Hampden and Silver Spring townships, as well as other municipalities around Mechanicsburg.
But as those areas fill up with homes, builders have turned their attention to less- populated municipalities around Carlisle and Boiling Springs, like Middlesex and Monroe townships, as well as neighboring South Middleton Township.
Officials with Integrated Development, meanwhile, believe projects such as The Porches will draw new residents to Central Pennsylvania. Part of what makes the 65-acre development unique is its connection to the resort and a small neighboring farm, which will be called the Allenberry Farm. The farm will supply free-range chickens and other food products to an eatery at the resort, The Barn Restaurant at Allenberry.
The Porches also will have a paved path going directly to the resort. In addition, the community will have public manicured lawns with features such as bocce courts, gazebos, and gardens, as well as a fitness lawn for pilates and yoga. A menu of concierge services connected to the resort also is being developed that residents will be able to customize as part of their homeowner’s association fee.
“For us, it comes down to the amenities and the lifestyle this project will offer,” partner Jonathan Bowser said. “It’s not your typical subdivision. It is more of a lifestyle community with a resort attached to it.”And Allenberry recently earned a coveted endorsement from The Orvis Co., a high-end outdoor retailer, as a fly-fishing lodge and as a location along the Yellow Breeches Creek for Orvis fly-fishing schools.
“As a part of this exclusive brand, we will be welcoming guests from all over the world who appreciate the Orvis brand, their products and their values,” Kennedy said.
Allenberry also is within an hour of the Orvis Hill Country Shooting Grounds, a large sporting clays resort south of Gettysburg, which could drive more out-of-town interest in the Boiling Springs area.
People from Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., have already started expressing interest in living at The Porches, said Jennifer Hollister of the Jennifer Hollister Group, part of the Joy Daniels Real Estate Group in Hampden Township, who is marketing the community.
She expects about half of the homes could be purchased by people from outside of Central Pennsylvania. The modern farmhouse style of the homes and resort amenities could appeal to service members who have connections to the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle and want to retire in Cumberland County.
“There is definitely a lot of excitement from people I’ve spoken to, who are asking about floor plans, pricing and what date they can get in,” she said. “This project should drive more investment. You can already sense it in Boiling Springs.”
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