Tuesday, September 16, 2003

What's the buzz?

N.C. home builder expands into area

By Jeff McKinney
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hoping to tap into the area's growing suburban housing market, a custom home builder from the Southeast has quietly expanded into Cincinnati.

St. Lawrence Homes of Raleigh, N.C., plans to build 30 to 40 houses priced $250,000 to $400,000 in Liberty Township as part of two new developments, said Rich Ohmann, a company spokesman. Work has already begun on one of the homes. St. Lawrence also is finishing work on houses started by Sumerlin Homes of Cincinnati, which plans to exit the business, Ohmann said.

St. Lawrence Homes is entering Cincinnati via its ties to Robert C. Rhein Interests Inc., a local developer known for lavish suburban communities. St. Lawrence Homes has built houses for Rhein Interests developments in the Carolinas and now is bringing that southern style of home building to Cincinnati.

St. Lawrence Homes also figures that there's room for growth locally. Ohmann said about 30,000 building permits are filed yearly in Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., versus about 8,000 for Greater Cincinnati.

"We saw it as a market that does not have as much building, but a very solid and growing economy," Ohmann said. Its latest move will mark St. Lawrence Homes' first expansion into the Midwest.

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