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VOL. 124 | NO. 98 | Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vesta Home Show to Kick Off in Arlington Today

By Eric Smith

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GREEN DREAMS: The Villages at White Oak in Arlington is the site of this year’s Vesta Home Show. This home in White Oak was built by Regency Home Builders, which will bring two “green” homes to this year’s show. -- PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE BOATMAN

This year’s Vesta Home Show will achieve a couple of “firsts” – the first show in Arlington and the first to feature all “green” homes.

The eight-home show, set for the fall, kicks off today with a groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Villages of White Oak, a $24 million, 326-acre, 700-home development just north of Interstate 40 near the Shelby-Fayette county line.

The builders for this year’s show are Chamberlain & McCreery, Regency Home Builders, FaxonGillis Homes, Ruch Builders, Sterling Homes and Signature Building Group. Chamberlain & McCreery and Regency are building two homes apiece; the others are building one.

The Villages at White Oak was developed by an entity called White Oak GP, a partnership among Chamberlain & McCreery, Earl Blankenship and Canale Properties LLC.

Tommy White, vice president of development for White Oak GP, said being selected to host the Vesta Home Show was an honor.

And getting the kind of traffic that the Vesta Home Show brings each year also should help during what’s been a difficult home-buying climate.

“For us, to have what’s expected to be 25,000 or 30,000 people in over a month-long show to a town that has a population just over 10,000, we are ecstatic,” White said.

Demand for green

Vesta Home Show Groundbreaking
The Villages at White Oak, Arlington
Today, 10 a.m.

Not only are the developers in White Oak ecstatic about hosting the show, they are looking forward to their community showcasing the latest in green building.

All the homes in this year’s Vesta Home Show will be built to recently unveiled National Green Building Standards as established by the National Association of Home Builders through the American National Standards Institute.

The certification joins the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation as a standard bearer for green building.

The event is not only the first all-green in Memphis, but in the nation, noted Stephen Hodgkins, president of Memphis Area Home Builders Association, Vesta’s title sponsor, and owner of Oaktree Homes LLC. But it won’t be the last.

“I think it’s the wave of the future for homebuilding,” Hodgkins said.

The wave is coming for a number of reasons. One, builders are constructing green homes at lower costs as more consumers demand it. Two, homeowners are seeing the benefits of eco-friendly homes, from reducing their carbon footprint and helping the earth to reducing their monthly utility bills and helping their pocketbooks.

“As we become more and more of an environmentally aware country, people are starting to ask questions about what they can do to their homes to make them green,” White said. “This is going to give a firsthand knowledge to people who come through these homes, and the homes are going to be what they can afford.”

No more window shopping

Affordability has been an issue with the Vesta Home Show, which typically features homes upward of $700,000. But this year, prices will range from $250,000 to $300,000, giving many potential buyers the opportunity to purchase the homes instead of just gawking at them.

“It had become almost a show for home lookers rather than homebuyers,” Hodgkins said. “Most of the people going to the show couldn’t really afford the homes that were being shown. We’ve been wanting to get back into more affordable housing for some time. These houses are going to be at or near the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) price range, so they are going to be affordable to more people, which we think is huge.”

Joe Callaway, event director for MAHBA, agreed that the Vesta Home Show for years was about window shopping, as visitors admired everything from the granite countertops to the stainless steel appliances, even if those amenities weren’t in their budgets.

“The Vesta show has traditionally been very upper scale, upper-end homes,” Callaway said. “Probably 80 to 90 percent of the people who went there never even dreamed of owning one of them. They just wanted to see what the other side lived like.”

At this year’s show, however, visitors will not only get to see homes closer to the average price range, they’ll get to see how green building materials and techniques are making a difference in today’s new homes.

“People will really begin to learn and understand more what green means to them in their day-to-day life in their home,” Callaway said. “We think this is going to be a real opportunity to educate people in a very unobtrusive way and let them have fun while they’re learning about it.”

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