An eco-friendly slope side community
This isn’t news; no one has been immune to the changes in the economy in the past few years. Every person, organization and business entity has had to adapt or die. Resort real estate is no exception.
It’s a truth, many of us would rather not believe, however, most ski resorts rely on real estate sales to fund their ski resort operations. The chairlifts and ski runs are an amenity.
So, what are resorts in smaller more remote markets doing to capture attention and sell real estate?
Schweitzer Mountain Resort is a ski and summer resort located 11 miles outside of Sandpoint, Idaho and 90 minutes from the nearest airport, Spokane International Airport. The resort has released MountainSide, a 34- lot community with a mix of fractional homes, single-family homes and premium lots for custom construction.
The original plan at this site, named Trappers Creek at the time, was a collection of premium home sites with design guidelines in place for spacious, whole-ownership, single-family homes. The idea was to sell these premium home sites adjacent to and above the alpine ski village allowing buyers to build exactly what they wanted, with their own design/build team. At that time, there was a market for bare land. “We weren’t in the development business at that time,” explained Schweitzer CEO Tom Chasse, “but we’ve adapted.”
Schweitzer Mountain pulled the Trappers Creek community from the market, took a hard look at their buyer, and their preferences, and rolled out a new product with a new name in the same premium, ski-in/ski-out location.
MountainSide at Schweitzer
“We planned a community for the eco- and price- conscious buyer. Something with a smaller footprint, lower maintenance costs, less impact on the environment, and a smaller price point.”
Their market research showed that buyers were having a hard time visualizing what their home would look like. Buyers wanted to simplify their lives; they wanted to be conservative in their spending and in their consumption.
This process allowed Schweitzer officials to change their thinking and develop a product that meets the demand of buyers in the new economy.
Phase I fractional residences at MountainSide, designed by Sun Valleybased Ruscitto, Latham and Blanton, are 3-bedroom, 3 ½ bath stand alone homes with timber ceilings and eastern facing windows and terraces with stunning views of the sunrise over the mountains and Lake Pend Oreille below. At just under 2,000 square feet, the floor plans dedicate more space to open living areas and kitchen.
The exterior design combines simple contemporary architecture with a variety of roof lines and an exterior material palate of timbers, glass, stone and cedar siding. The design blends these elements into an architectural composition inspired by simplicity and grounded by its mountain environment. [member]
The lots are challenging building sites on the side of a mountain. Prospective buyers were having a hard time visualizing what their home could be. They didn’t want the hassle of building. They wanted a turnkey home; something that is finished, furnished, equipped and ready for occupancy.
MountainSide has a complete geothermal system that not only provides heating and cooling for the residences, but also provides snowmelt systems for roads and sidewalks. The system is expected to reduce HVAC energy consumption by greater than 50% of a conventional system. Energy efficient appliances and bamboo floors are a few of the eco-friendly details. One of the completed homes is in the final stages of LEED certification.
Fractional ownership is a timely concept given the economy because it allows owners to pay a price for a vacation home proportionate to the amount of time they use it. At $195,000, buyers will own a 1/8 fee simple interest in a beautifully furnished and well appointed and equipped 3-bedroom, 3 ½ bath home. The 1/8 interest allows for a minimum of four weeks use per year. It is a practical and carefree way for many to own a vacation home.
Additionally, this fractional ownership reduces the ecological impact via shared use. People who want to be less consumptive find this appealing. Owners pool resources and as a result get more amenities, service and benefits such as a concierge and on-site management who handle all aspects of maintenance and upkeep.
Second homes with maximized, shared use, benefit the communities in which they are located with increased use and fewer “dark” homes, and reduced development. You don’t want to be in your second home and be alone in the neighborhood.
The remaining lots will be planned and released based on market demand.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort is very much an off-the-radar destination that attracts families mostly in the Pacific Northwest but throughout the country looking for a real mountain experience; something undiscovered, with varied terrain and beautiful scenery. At 2900 acres of ski-able terrain, it is comparable in size to many major, well-known resorts such as Snowbird, Utah or Breckenridge, Colorado but with comparably fewer skier visits. Visitors get long powder days, many tree runs, wide open bowls, relaxed and friendly people, and views of the Cabinet, Selkirk, and Bitterrroot mountain ranges, as well as the lake in the valley below. The resort village has a nice down-to-earth vibe with a few nice dining options and bars, ski shops and a gourmet wine and cheese shop to pick up dinner and cook back at the condo.
Schweitzer and Sandpoint Real Estate Market
Schweitzer and the lakeside town of Sandpoint 11 miles away benefit from a significantly lower volume of speculative investment, which is helped to keep prices more stable than many other resort towns. Most owners have chosen to buy because they are passionate about the resort and plan for many years of future enjoyment with family and friends. They are users, not investors. And thanks to that, the area has been somewhat protected from the speculative price inflation. If they earn a good return on their property when they eventually sell, that’s great, but it’s not generally the underlying motivation for a purchase the purchase.
This small charming resort town of 8,000 people is located in the Idaho panhandle on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille and against the foothills of the Selkirk Mountains. Buyers here have the luxury of choosing from luxury residential waterfront, golf and slopeside communities. Having access to four-season activities, the charming, genuine community of Sandpoint, a pristine and spectacular lake, a world-class ski resort and a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course again, brings buyers interested in a long-term investment, buyers that have made a lifestyle change and are pursuing their dreams.
Improvements to the downtown infrastructure will help support the influx of new growth. The long awaited Sand Creek Byway will be complete in 2011. The 2.1mile State Highway bypass will improve downtown access and route truck traffic out of the charming downtown core restoring the center to its pedestrians and local traffic. Bike and pedestrian pathways and vegetated walls incorporated into the roadway will enhance the downtown and provide easy access for alternative methods of transportation.
Success is still too early to measure as the new homes were complete this ski season but interest is high and Chasse is optimistic. The key is in not discounting the real estate, but to offer a product with great value, and most of all have a keen understanding of the buyer when the project design is underway.
More information is available at
www.schweitzer.com or www.schweitzerrealestate.com.