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Mammoth subdivisions making serious comebacks post-recession
Sterling on the Lake recently hosted the grand opening for its fifth decorated model home, the Waterstone home design from builder Harcrest Homes, the Craftsman-style home offers 3,500 square feet of living space, including five bedrooms and four bathrooms.

Large-scale developments that started in Hall County before the Great Recession are surging again.

“Master plan communities in general seem to fare better in recessions because our communities are designed to be built over a long period of time, between five and 15-20 years,” said Jennifer Landers, a vice president with Newland Communities.

Newland is developing Sterling on the Lake, a planned 2,000-home community on 1,000 acres in Flowery Branch.

Sterling, which is off Spout Springs Road, has 900 homes now and is opening a new 115-home section in early summer, Landers said.

Also, the development is about to start construction on a section featuring 1-acre home sites off Capitola Farm Road.

In early March, Sterling held a grand opening of the community’s fifth decorated model home, built by Harcrest Homes.

“We’re looking forward to the new options in floor plans and interior features that they will bring to our buyers,” Landers said.

Cresswind at Lake Lanier off Browns Bridge Road/Ga. 369 is developing 182 lots that will be open for purchase in April, said Robert Rademacher, vice president of the Kolter Group, Cresswind’s developer.

Construction on a final phase of 120 homes could begin in January, he said.

Last year was Cresswind’s “best year ever,” Rademacher said, adding that Kolter sold 141 houses, up from 121 in 2014.

Older, active adults — whom Cresswind targets — make up the “wealthiest group of individuals in the history of mankind,” Rademacher said.

Yet, “when we came out of the recession, we had the challenge of people not being able to sell their houses so they could move here,” he said. “Some decided to have two houses, and others decided to wait until their houses would sell.

“What’s happened that’s been very beneficial for us in the last two years is that it’s been much easier for them to sell their houses.”

Also new to the development is a tunnel under Browns Bridge Road connecting different sections of the neighborhood. Cresswind also features a bridge over Ivey Road.

Kolter is the neighborhood’s second developer, taking over in April 2010. Originally, the subdivision was known as Seasons on Lanier but — like many other developments — it got roughed up by the recession.

While the community was left in limbo, residents took up the slack by maintaining public areas.

Another large subdivision affected by the recession was Gainesville’s Mundy Mill, which is off Mundy Mill Road.

Plans for the mixed-use, 604-acre development, when approved in 2004, called for 1,148 single-family houses, 578 town houses, 460 apartments and more than 1 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space.

Only 67 homes were built before the housing market crashed.

Mundy Mill “was put back together,” said Frank Norton Jr., president and CEO of The Norton Agency real estate firm in Gainesville and a regional real estate watcher.

“It went to eight different banks or so, and our firm helped reassemble the majority of it,” Norton said. “It was able to have a second life; it was like putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.”

Sales are going strong, said John Schwartz of Mundy Mill Homes.

“It’s wide open right now,” he said. “We’re probably 50 percent ahead of last year (in sales), at this point.”

Mundy Mill has been approved for 1,148 homes, according to its website.

The development, which also is bounded by Mountain View, also features a commercial section off Mundy Mill Road just off McEver Road.

The retail growth “is just a matter of timing,” Schwartz said. “They want to see a certain number of rooftops.”

Another large development, Village at Deaton Creek, off Friendship Road/Ga. 347, is at buildout, but another subdivision by the same builder is planned for the area, straddling Hall and Gwinnett counties.

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