The Olympia Master Builders had just clinched a deal to build the 1998 Street of Dreams in the Indian Summer development when golf course owner Scott Oki announced that the course will remain private.

That should be welcome news to those who will build houses on Dream Street this year, says Steve Palken, attorney for Crystal Investments LLC, which owns the home-development phase of Indian Summer. Palken says the decision will have a positive impact on the 1998 Street of Dreams—and the rest of the development.

“We feel it offers an exclusivity and a product that doesn’t have any competition in Thurston County,” Palken says.

There will be four homes in this year’s Street of Dreams, which is slated for completion July 16. North Pointe Construction will build two homes. Greene Development Corporation and Benjamin Homes will each build one.

Among the reasons for the limited number of homes in the show is that they are expected to range in price from $250,000 to $450,000. That’s higher than the going price for most homes, even new ones, in Thurston County, unless they come with acreage. Developers taking part n this year’s Street of Dreams are confident access to an exclusive golf course will make up the difference.

“We think four homes in that price range will be a good show,” Palken says.

The 1996 Street of Dreams at Meridian Campus offered 10 homes from nine builders. Those homes sold for $200,000 to $300,000.

Then, in 1997, the Olympia Master Builders chose not to sponsor a Street of Dreams. Bill Childress, principal of North Pointe Construction and a Street of Dreams builder since its beginnings in 1976, explained that the market was sluggish last year. Builders were concerned about building homes in the price range featured the previous year. Now they are more optimistic since new home starts are up 6 percent from this time last year.

The 1998 Street of Dreams originally was going to be in Campus Green, the development adjacent to Meriwood Golf Course in Lacey. That plan had to be scrapped when rainy weather and higher-than-expected ground water made the ground too soggy for site preparations necessary to guarantee construction would be done on time. Indian Summer was the natural alternative—it’s where the 1997 Street of Dreams would have been.

Some builders whod been slated to take part in the 1998 Street of Dreams dropped out when the site was changed, but Rich Greene of Greene Development maintained his commitment.

He points out that Campus Green now expects to be ready for development by August, and he plans to be among those building in that development—he’s building at Indian Summer in the interim, he says, because he figures his houses might as well be on both golf courses.

Greene likened building a Street of Dreams home to having a baby. It requires a tremendous amount of work, he says, and by the time it’s over you think you’ll never do it again. In a couple years, though, you forget about the pain and go for it, he adds.

“With 30,000-plus people coming through, it shows them what Greene Development can do,” Greene says.

Concept Homes Northwest was one of the builders that chose not to make the jump to Indian Summer. Partners Michael Cornforth and Charlie Sirokman are members, directors and strong supporters of the Olympia Master Builders. They received excellent exposure for their 1996 Street of Dreams home, they say.

But Sirokman says they opted not to take part this year because they felt Indian Summer wasn’t an ideal location.

“Most of my clients are looking for easy I-5 access,” Sirokman says.

Sirokman, who says she’s looking forward to participating in the 1999 Street of Dreams, is among those who contend their clients generally want acreage when they buy a house with an Indian Summer price.

Lots on which Street of Dreams homes will built listed for $78,000, but the Olympia Master Builders received a discount based on the exposure the event will bring to the development.

Street of Dreams also will bring exposure for builders, who will showcase their latest designs and building innovations.

Indian Summer has environmental approval for up to 480 units, but Palken says it’s unlikely all 480 units will be built.

Since 1992, he explains, 137 lots have been prepared for construction, but only 71 homes had been sold as of last November, when the previous owner sold the golf course to Oki and the development surrounding it to Crystal Investments. It was no secret that home and lot sales were low.

Don Tierney, president of the Indian Summer Golf and Country Club Golf Committee and a resident of the development, says uncertainty under the previous ownership over whether the club would remain private or open its facilities to the public affected home sales and development.

“Someone buying into the golf course or community didn’t have a sense of what they were buying into,” Tierney said. Since the change in ownership, 11 homes have changed hands.

“The success of the golf club and the success of the development are inter-related,” says Palken, although buying a home in the Indian Summer development doesn’t automatically make you a member of the golf club. Palken and Oki say the prospect of joint-marketing by the development and golf course is a possibility.

“Because of the stability of a new owner of development and golf club, we’re expecting a very positive year,” says Palken.

Deering and Nelson Construction is developing a 25-lot plat for a villa product — smaller, single-family homes for around $250,000 each. Four are under construction and already sold.

DaPaul Inc., meanwhile, is developing 64 units, including townhomes listing at $207,000 apiece—10 have already sold.

The goal is to offer more diversity to potential buyers, says Palken. Indian Summer’s market has traditionally been what he calls, “the move -up market,” active working people who happen to play golf. The townhomes and smaller homes will help Indian Summer appeal to retired folks as well, he says.

By Marie McNamara, Business Examiner staff