Steel Ranch a homebuyer's magnet - Boulder County Business Report - May 24, 2012

Posted May 25, 2012 In The News

LOUISVILLE – It’s been a long time since developers specializing in single-family housing have had reason to be optimistic.

That’s part of the reason why Ryland Homes and Boulder Creek Builders, the companies behind the Steel Ranch development in Louisville, are pleasantly surprised about the success of the fast-selling project. The development is off Colorado Highway 42, between Baseline and South Boulder roads.

The companies started building last year, and both are on pace to build out – and sell out – well ahead of schedule.

“We can’t build any faster. We’ve got people on top of people. I’ve never been witness to a community built this fast,” said David Sinkey, Boulder Creek Builders’ principal and managing director. “This is a pace nobody’s seen, especially around here.”

“This is one of anybody’s most successful communities, in any market,” said Ruth Rowley, Ryland Homes’ vice president for sales and marketing.

As of mid-May, Ryland Homes sold 70 of the 84 homes it will build on its 57-acre portion of Steel Ranch, Rowley said. The prices of its homes range from $356,000 for a 1,711-square-foot ranch to about $525,000 for a 3,056-square-foot two-story home.

Boulder Creek has sold 38 of the 68 homes it will build on its portion. Prices range from the low $400,000s to $600,000. The Steel Ranch models have won awards from local and national homebuilders’ associations.

Growing demand for new homes and a sense the economy is improving are two of the driving factors behind the brisk sales, Sinkey and Rowley said on a recent tour of the development. There’s also a lack of existing homes going on the market in the greater Boulder area.

But that doesn’t explain why Steel Ranch is outselling other projects. The major reason for that, the builders said, is its proximity to Louisville, with its charming downtown.

“It’s different in a good way,” Rowley said. “You have the feeling of a small town, which is very big right now.”

The area also has weathered the recession better than have most communities, Sinkey said, and local employers are strong.

“It allowed everyone to feel they could take a chance on the area,” he said.
Louisville has been piling up awards as one of the nation’s best places to live, including taking the top spot on Money magazine’s biennial list of best small towns in 2009 and 2011. 

“The Money magazine story is just the cherry on top,” Sinkey said. 
Ryland and Boulder Creek benefit from offering homes targeted at different demographics. According to Sinkey, Boulder Creek’s homebuyers are predominantly empty nesters who are downsizing from the homes in which they raised their children. They want smaller homes, and the smaller lots mean virtually no yard work.

Middle-aged single women also find the patio-home concept appealing, Sinkey said.

Ryland’s homebuyers are younger, mainly families who have outgrown their first home, Rowley said: A mom and dad who are professionals in successful careers and can afford a bit extra for a good school district and small-town feel.

“It’s been nice in that regard,” Rowley said. “We don’t really compete.”

Steel Ranch never would have gotten off the ground if the companies had not cooperated in the early days. Another major national homebuilder was looking to purchase the land, but Boulder Creek and Ryland were able to put together a last-second proposal to buy the tract. The deal took two frantic weeks to put together, Sinkey said.

The success of Steel Ranch will help both companies launch new forays into the Colorado market.

Louisville-based Boulder Creek Builders LLC is a privately held company which specializes in patio homes and townhouses. It is building five communities in Louisville, Longmont and Loveland.

Boulder Creek is about to expand its reach beyond its traditional area in Boulder County, Sinkey said. He is not able to disclose the new location at the moment, but he said it will be building in major metro-Denver developments.

Boulder Creek’s growth shows small, locally owned development and building companies can survive and thrive, which seemed very much in doubt at times during the recession, Sinkey said.

Ryland Homes is part of the Ryland Group Inc., a 45-year-old national homebuilder that is publicly traded (NYSE: RYL). The company is based in Westlake Village, California, with its Colorado division headquartered in Greenwood Village.

Ryland returned to the Colorado market in 2010, and its part of Steel Ranch is helping the company regain its foothold in the state, Rowley said.

“It’s a very exciting time for us,” she said. “We’re getting back on the map in Colorado.”