‘Story book’ Showcase Home features beauty, functionality

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 149 views 

The Greater Fort Smith Association of Home Builders Parade of Homes kicks off Oct. 3 and its showcase home features design elements that feature both beauty and functionality.

The home, located at 7230 Stonebrook Drive in Chaffee Crossing, boasts 2,201 square feet with design features including a natural gas-powered emergency generator, a garage heater, a multi-head master shower and an outdoor kitchen with a mounted outdoor television.

The home, built by Fort Smith-based Carrington Creek Homes, also features 26 windows bringing natural light into all the main living quarters, including the dining room, living room and kitchen.

"I think one of the things that is a little more unique than most homes (are) the big open windows. Now the ones over there will roll out. But you don't walk into a house and see a bank of windows that's great big where you can see out," said Melody Harshbarger, who did the interior decorating of the home and is handling marketing for Parade of Homes sponsor Arkansas-Oklahoma Gas Corp.

She said a design element of smaller windows upon the entry coupled with the dark woods throughout and decorative lighting provide the home with a "story book" feel.

Among the unique features of the 2014 Showcase Home is the natural gas generator, which is powered by a connection to AOG and will atomically kick on should power go out for any reason. With the generator having a direct connection to the utility, its capability is virtually unlimited, Harshbarger said.

"It's the first time there's ever been one in the showcase home. There's been generators before, but this is a (natural) gas-powered generator," Harshbarger added.

Stephanie Stipins, executive director of the Greater Fort Smith Association of Home Builders, also noted the home's inclusion of a tankless natural gas-powered hot water heater.

Both natural gas features add to the cost of building a home, Stipins said — the generator runs about $6,000 while the tankless hot water heater adds about $2,500 in cost — but the overall cost of the home and all its features are on par with other homes in the Chaffee Crossing area.

With all the features of the showcase home, including the natural gas amenities and an outdoor kitchen, the home comes in at a price of $289,500, or about $132 per square foot.

"This whole division is roughly around the $300,000 price range," she said. "… We feel like we underpriced this a little bit. We felt like it was a higher price point, but we didn't want to overprice it for its area. So it's actually a bargain for all the amenities it has."

Harshbarger said whoever purchases the showcase home each year gets one of the region's most updated, advanced homes that she said comes with that extra little "oomph."

"They get an extra bang for their buck, so to speak," Harshbarger said.

"Plus the prestige of owning the showcase home," Stipins added. "So much time and resources have gone into this home and to own that home has to be very beneficial to the new owner, as well."

The time and resources going into the Stonebrook home include more than 30 local vendors working to complete construction of the house in time for the Parade of Homes.

In the 27 years the Home Builders have sponsored a Parade of Homes and had a showcase home, there have been ups and downs in the market, with the housing bubble of 2008 being the most recent example.

But Stipins said activity has started to shift and return to the Fort Smith region. In the region, building permits have increased 10% for the first eight months of 2014. Last month in Fort Smith, new residential permits were valued at $3.313 million and accounted for 77.66% of all residential construction permits issued.

From August 2013 to August 2014, permits increased by 5.66% in value in the city.

Stipins said a lot of the drive in Fort Smith has been activity happening at Chaffee Crossing, adding that the planned Arkansas School of Osteopathic Medicine and construction of a new headquarters for ArcBest had made the former military property the hot spot in Fort Smith residential construction.

"According to the National Association of Home Builders, we're on a record high for the improvement in home sales. We continue to climb since last August, new home sales have continued to climb. And in the Fort Smith area with developments at Chaffee Crossing … the desirability of living in Chaffee has increased as well."

The Parade of Homes runs from Oct. 3 to Oct. 12, with homes open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily featuring 17 different homes across Sebastian County.

More information can be found at FortSmithHomeBuilders.com.