Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Homefest features luxury

By Sarah Buehrle
Enquirer Contributor

        UNION — While the nation may be concerned about a recession, northern Kentucky's residential building is increasing, according to the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky (HBANKY), which is hosting its 28th annual Homefest housing show next week.

        The 2001 Homefest, which runs from July 28-August 12, is a single-site new construction show located in the community of Triple Crown that features newly-built homes by eight northern Ken tucky builders.

  • What: Homefest
  • When: Open July 28-Aug. 12, 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, and noon-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • Tickets: $7 for adults; children under 10 free
  • Where: Off Interstate 75 at the Richwood exit, No. 175, in the Triple Crown community.
        Home shows like these are a showcase for the latest trends in home design and technology, and this year the show is touting “affordable luxury,” priced in the lower- to mid- $300,000 range rather than the usual Homefest price tag of $500,000 and up, according to HBANKY director of special events Nancye McClanahan.

        Builders, interior designers, furnishings suppliers and material suppliers compete to outdo each other — taking over an area of a neighborhood, or creating a new one full of homes that are open to the public as showplaces first. Homefest has been a Northern Kentucky home builder and home dreamer's highlight since the mid-1970s.

        One of the most spacious homes in the 2001 Homefest, The Sterling, a home by the Erpenbeck Company, is 3,830 square feet and all the homes are full of specializations.

        The Casa De Genoa, a first-time Homefest entry for S. L. Williams Homes, Inc., offers a putting green in the backyard, fireplaces in the living room and master bedroom, and a modern, open lower-level floor plan for $319,900.

        And though these prices are double the average single family home selling price for Northern Kentucky, the demand for new construction residential housing remains high overall, even at the top end of the register.

        With the layoffs at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport and other businesses, it may seem that Northern Kentucky's home building economy should be slowing.

        Dan Dressman, executive director of HBANKY, said that Northern Kentucky has not yet felt a major slowdown, and that the home ownership rate for parts of Northern Kentucky is five percent higher than the national average.

        “We're not seeing that shoe drop,” Mr. Dressman said. “As far as construction, industry is very solid. There's strong activity in the market right now.”

        Steve Stevens, vice president of public relations at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, agrees.

        “One of the areas of the economy that is actually holding us up is construction,” Mr. Stevens said. He also said that while Northern Kentucky dropped from an average 5,000 new jobs annually to 2,900 in 2000, the state was still seeing an increase in manufacturing employment, which is one of the highest-paid occupations in northern Kentucky.

        Mr. Stevens said that manufacturing employees' home-buying power could help explain the steady construction economy. Contradictory to a slowdown in economy, the Homefest homes often sell before the Homefest opens. According to McClanahan, three homes in the show had already sold last week.

        Jerome Grefer, of Canton, Ohio, purchased the Fischer Homes home to be displayed in the 2001 show. Mr. Grefer, a regional manager for AVI Food Systems, has relocated six times, purchasing homes in Arizona, Ohio and Kansas.

        Mr. Grefer said the home was spacious enough for his family with six children and that Triple Crown was a comfortable neighborhood near a good school system, churches and the interstate.

        According to Mr. Dressman, the number of households in Northern Kentucky is expected to increase 22 percent from 141,621 to 171,535 by the year 2010. More than 30,000 housing units will be needed to fill the need.


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