A longtime developer has restarted a townhome community in Shallotte that, like other area residential projects planned eight and nine years ago, had fallen victim to the housing market’s crash.
Bobby Harrelson, the latest owner of the Highland Forest townhome site in Shallotte and owner and developer of Compass Pointe, is working with Masonboro Construction and Development Inc. to build 38 units in 19 townhouse buildings on nearly 13 acres of land, said Amanda Marks, who is in charge of marketing for the townhouse project as well as Compass Pointe.
The new townhouses will be rental units and make up The Pines at Highland Forest, a subdivision in the larger Highland Forest neighborhood. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project, hosted by Highland Forest Properties LLC, will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 10 at 55 Highland Forest Circle.
Chris Bryan of Sloane Realty, general sales manager for Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty and Sloane Commercial Real Estate, is the leasing agent for The Pines. He said he expects the market for rental homes in Brunswick County, particularly in southern portions of the county, to stay strong.
“Last year, in 2014, I rented 97 long-term rental properties,” Bryan said. “I don't see any end in sight in terms of that particular business ... I think there's still going to be a demographic out there, regardless of where you go, that's going to always prefer to rent versus buy.”
As a result of work done by the previous owners, the townhome neighborhood already has 10 townhouse units and some amenities, including a pool, a 3-acre lake and sidewalks. There are also plans for a park with a playground, according to the invitation to the groundbreaking.
The Highland Forest community started around the year 2000, with detached single-family properties selling well and apartments that were a success, said Harry Stovall III, broker in charge and manager at Commonwealth Commercial Properties of Wilmington.
“The townhouse part of it, unfortunately, didn’t really get cranked up until shortly before the downturn,” said Stovall, who was a partner in Brunswick West LLC, the firm that developed the larger parts of Highland Forest. He said also had a small interest in the firm that previously worked on the townhouse site.
National statistics show that townhome sales fell drastically when the housing market crashed, but recently, the demand for the attached homes appears to be growing in the Wilmington area
, with new townhomes selling, for sale or under construction.
“Around the time of the downturn, of course everything was hit really hard, but townhouses in the Shallotte area, and I would guess a lot of other places, were hit harder than anything ... This time around, I feel sure it’s going to be successful,” Stovall said.