Charleston Development Group is an 11-year-old custom builder of luxury homes that’s been recognized as one of the top builders in the Naperville, Ill., market. But Adam Van Someren, who co-owns CDG with his brother Erik and father Larry, admits that the company has always wanted to improve its design features.
So when the opportunity presented itself to combine CDG with a local remodeling company that has an experienced design team, the Van Somerens jumped at the chance. This unusual merger with Casa Bella Design Kitchen and Bath Remodelers forms a new company, Casa by Charleston, which the partners launched about 10 days ago at a local home tour, where one of CDG’s houses was on display.
Van Someren declined to provide financial details about the merger, except that “there was not a lot of cash involved.” His family is a 50-50 partner with Teresa and Nick Ryan, who own Ryan Hill Realty, of which Casa Bella was an affiliate. Van Someren points out that one advantage of this merger for Casa Bella is that “we are putting a management team in place where there was none before.”
He adds that the Ryans—who approached CDG’s owners about entering into this deal—also saw possible synergies between Ryan Hill’s 55 real estate agents who are trying to resell lots of foreclosed properties these days, and a builder they could refer clients to with the expertise to repair or renovate those houses to make them more marketable.
The value of the merger for CDG was Casa Bella’s “fantastic showroom,” says Van Someren. Located in downtown Naperville, the showroom is where the remodeler displays kitchen and bath products in vignette settings within two 1,500-square-foot areas on the first floor and basement.
The four-year-old design center employs a two-person design team that will now lend its skills to CDG’s construction. “That’s a huge advantage for us,” he says. Another advantage is Casa Bella’s purchasing power, which Van Someren notes exceeds the remodeler’s size because it can buy from manufacturers as a wholesaler.
Casa by Charleston’s partners are going to upgrade the showroom and expand its product assortment, so that when it’s completed “it will be like having one of our model homes downtown.” Ryan Hill Realty’s offices are on the second floor, so the revamped showroom will need its own separate entrance and signage.
CDG builds energy-efficient homes that range from 4,500 to 7,500 square feet, and are priced between $1.4 million and $3 million. Van Someren doesn’t think the merger is going to change what the company builds. “But it will affect our price points” because the builder will be taking on more renovation projects, and even some commercial work like condo conversions. “There’s nothing that we can’t bid on now.”
Besides the home tour, which drew more than 2,000 people, Casa by Charleston introduced itself to the Naperville market with email blasts to prospects. It should have its new Web site ready for relaunching within the next few months. And a re-grand opening for the showroom is scheduled for early next year.
John Caulfield is senior editor for BUILDER magazine.