THE MUNGO COS. OF COLUMBIA, S.C., didn't have to do much to market the master planned community of Brook-haven, also in Columbia. Ideally located for commuters to both Columbia and Charlotte, N.C., the site had been watched by builders and buyers for years. Originally intended for industrial use, the 1,000-acre parcel was known as “the IBM tract,” says Steven Mungo, CEO of The Mungo Cos. When that use never materialized, the site was converted to residential. Brookhaven was the first neighborhood to be developed there.

With easy access to the interstate, two schools on site, a significant commercial component planned for an adjacent 300 acres, and a product line squarely targeting first-time buyers, Brookhaven was a natural to become a best-selling community. “It's an irreplaceable location,” Mungo says. “Once we bought it, the word in the real estate community was pretty high. We didn't have to spend a fortune on marketing.”

That was a good thing because Mungo spent about two years working out a wetlands permitting issue with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Photo: Credit BD060601170L1.jpgCLICK HERE FOR IMAGE GALLERY
Photo: Credit BD060601170L1.jpgCLICK HERE FOR IMAGE GALLERY

“It was pretty painful,” Mungo says. “The silver lining was that we had to work really carefully with the corps to get through that. We have as good a relationship now with the [Army] Corps of Engineers as any company in America.”

Brookhaven is the first of several neighborhoods that will be carved out of the site; about 20 percent of the acreage has been set aside as a conservation easement. Amenities are basically limited to walking trails. Because his target market is first-time buyers, Mungo opted against a clubhouse because he wanted to keep the association fees as low as possible.

“I'm an evangelist for affordable housing,” Mungo says. “If we don't get people in their first houses, we'll never be able to get them into a move-up house.”

Can we get an “Amen”?

Project: Brookhaven, Columbia, S.C.

Date sales started: October 2004

Sales through February 2006: 117

Total units planned: 1,500

Unit size: 1,113 to 2,938 square feet

Price range: $89,000 to $161,900

Builder/Developer/Architect: The Mungo Cos., Columbia (lots also were sold to Rymarc Homes and Firstar Homes)

BEHIND THE SCENES Proximity to caffeine: Four miles to Atlanta Bread Co.

Poultry items in a model: none

Sales center munchies of choice: Chocolate chip cookies and coffee (cold days); Mungo Homes bottled water (hot days)

Sunset central: the back porch of your new home

Sales staff's fave feature in the best-selling plan: The garage for its appeal to first-time buyers who lived in apartments

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Charlotte, NC.