Lake Sidney Lanier may entice a new species of visitor to its shores this summer. Such a visitor would be a first-timer among throngs who each year flee sizzling Hot 'Lanta—an hour's drive south—to vacation in the cooling climes of the man-made refuge. In Levitt and Sons' plot line, the new denizen drawn to Georgia's second-largest lake will be a baby boomer, there to check out Seasons at Lake Lanier, a 55-and-better lifestyle community. In true boomer form, he or she will not be alone for long; merely the first of a wave.
Once they inhale the air of lake life, wafting among the sweet pine-covered Georgia foothills, the builder believes they'll scarcely be able to resist the locale's charm.
The 410-acre property, one of the few remaining undeveloped parcels along the lake's 692 miles of shoreline, will contrast the prevailing “resort-y” atmosphere—carefree and campy—with a dose of genteel understatement. As prospective buyers turn off Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville and enter the 744-home community's front gate, a sense of class and restrained charm aims to impress, quite belying the homes' $200,000 to $400,000-plus price tags.
At the entrance will be Levitt and Sons' landscape signature, cascading water fountains. Within, dogwoods and oak trees, due to blossom every spring and provide shade the summer long, will canopy meandering roadways. Walking paths will connect clusters of cozy craftsman-style, bungalow, and traditional Southern-style detached homes. The community's centerpiece: 215 acres of manicured green space that culminates with a 28,000-square-foot clubhouse.
Still, will the roughly $21.5 million dollars they anted up for the prime lake frontage within some 40 miles of downtown Atlanta play out according to their script?
Not without big challenges—one of them named Pulte. Within minutes' drive of Levitt's Seasons at Lake Lanier site, Del Webb's Active Adult juggernaut is already turning red clay on its 545-acre Village at Deaton Creek, one of its two recently announced Atlanta area initiatives. The 1,300-unit community suggests a better return on the investment, with more homes per acre to amortize the infrastructure for similar resort-style extras, including a 30,000-square-foot amenities center, fitness center, pools, and a tennis complex.
“We have what we believe is a tiger by the tail in that it's a company that still has its very proud, differentiated branding with hundreds of thousands of prior homeowners, and now we're getting ready for significant growth,” Levan says.
Levan's brash assertions—both that Levitt is robust enough to compete operationally with players like Del Webb and that the company's name exerts a special pull among aging baby boom home buyers—may be credible today. But it would not have been the case just a few years ago.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.