Construction is once again underway in one neighborhood in Lantana and residents couldn’t be happier.
Following the bankruptcy of Dallas-based builder Sotherby Homes in late 2008, two houses in the Isabel neighborhood sat unfinished for over a year, but that is starting to change thanks to the efforts of the Lantana Community Association and Lantana residents John and Deana Orlandi, owners of Signature Custom Homes. Unbeknownst to one another, both groups were working towards the same goal, the completion of the homes.
After the Sotherby bankruptcy, the two unfinished homes were left about 50% complete, or in a “dried in” state, which is builder lingo indicating that a house is no longer open to the elements. Both properties are being held by banks.
According to Bruce Crawford, Lantana’s Community Association Manager, the Lantana homeowner’s association began to use their leverage last September to force the banks to finish the properties by fining them for not completing the homes within the guidelines set forth in the development’s deed restrictions.
“With so many foreclosures in the city, state and nationwide, we did not want these two homes to fall between the cracks,” said Crawford. “We were unable to begin this process prior to September, but as soon as the time was right, we started the fining process and are so pleased that our efforts paid off for the residents in Isabel.”
That’s where John and Deana Orlandi come into the picture. The Orlandi’s had recently formed their own company, Signature Custom Homes, and were looking for a project to get them started. They began to make inquiries into who owned the unfinished house at 1117 Reese Way. Eventually they got in contact with the newly motivated bank and found a willing partner.
The Orlandi’s were able to get the contract to finish the house on Reese, along with seven other Sotherby properties in the D/FW area. John Orlandi says that the unfinished house in Lantana is in surprisingly good shape. He indicated that the house would be finished in a manner consistent with the standards of the neighborhood, and will have upgrades beyond what the original plans called for.
“The bank has been great to work with, allowing us to add some features that were not in the original plans. On the outside, the house will be indistinguishable from others in the Isabel development,” said Orlandi.
The other unfinished home in Isabel, located on Grant Ave, is owned by a different bank, and Orlandi said that he is talking to them about securing a similar contract to finish that home.
Lantana’s developer, Republic Property Group, has employed some unique measures in response to the real estate downturn, according to their VP of Marketing, Teresa Grawe.
Grawe said that the developer and the Lantana Community Association are working together to protect property values in Isabel, with the developer taking the unusual step of buying back 15 of 18 previously Sotherby-owned lots from the bank. In addition, the developer and HOA have made several changes to their deed restrictions and architectural guidelines.
With the concern about bank or foreclosure signs in front of homes, one of the changes now limits what type of real estate signs are allowed in Lantana. Additionally, the guidelines now require all new homes in Isabel to have wood-clad garage doors in order to stay consistent with the look and feel of the existing homes.
Grawe indicated that Republic is not currently in negotiations to sell the lots in Isabel to a builder. “The intent is to wait until the real estate market improves and a carefully selected builder is chosen to complete the neighborhood as a whole,” said Grawe.
Contact Signature Custom Homes at 214-325-6212.