Crane Hill, AL, April 11, 2007 --(PR.com
)-- A 50-ish couple driving a silver SUV with Florida plates parked by the Emerald Point on Smith Lake sign. The husband strolled the proposed condo construction site while the wife copied down information from the sign. Closing her notebook, she joined him to survey the lake view stretching out before them.
“It seems strange to see the opposite shore,” she said, “but I like the trees. You don’t get that at the beach.”
“No hurricanes here,” he replied simply. The two lingered a moment more before turning back to their SUV. “You got the information?”
She nodded, turned back for one last look at the deep green water and closed her door. Slowly they drove up the road, taking in the scenery of their possible future home. Behind them a black Mercedes with Mobile County places parked at the Emerald Point sign.
The above scene is becoming more common at developments around north Alabama’s Smith Lake, a 21,000-acre impoundment located between Birmingham and Huntsville. Hidden from view since its construction in the late 1950’s, the deepwater giant is generating interest across the nation as an alternative to the hurricane-plagued coastline. Real-estate types around Smith Lake even have a name for it: “inland flight.”
“We get many inquiries every day from beach condo owners looking to get away from the hurricanes, taxes and insurance rates,” said Melinda Edwards, co-developer of Emerald Point on Smith Lake Condominium, a proposed development looking to entice an upscale buyer who loves the waterfront condo lifestyle, but not the mess left by big winds and salt water.
“Right now we are in pre-construction sale of our first phase,” Edwards said. “Over half of these 54 units could be transplants from the coast. But it’s more than just wanting to get away from the hurricanes. This area has a lot to offer.”
What Smith Lake has to offer, according to its proponents, is very simply “The Good Life.” Alabama taxes are the lowest in the nation while its economy is the fastest growing. Property values along the lake are steadily climbing, with some lots on Ryans Creek reaching the $2,500 per foot of shoreline mark.
“Alabama is on the front end of an economic explosion," said radio talk show host and Alabama state Senator Hank Erwin. “People around the country are just now finding out what we’ve known all along. Alabama is the place to be.”
Rapid construction and existing home purchases which defy national trends seem to legitimize Erwin’s optimism, especially for areas surrounding Smith Lake. Some local officials in Cullman, Walker and Winston Counties believe their could be an influx of 100,000 or more new lake residents over the next five years due to development of some large waterfront tracts as well as condominiums which have a higher population density.
Interest in the lake isn’t limited to domestic property seekers, according to Bryan Pearl, creator of condosandresorts.com and internet real-estate marketing expert. “We’ve generated thousands of leads from practically every continent on earth,” Pearl said. “The interest is there and it has an increasingly international flavor, especially from investors who see the long-term potential of the lake.”
Some developers of Smith Lake’s 500 miles of shoreline point to more intangible factors attracting transplants. “I’ve lived here since birth,” said Dewayne Campbell, Edwards brother and co-developer of Emerald Point Condo. “There’s something about the people, a stability and sureness of values that makes this feel like home no matter how long you’ve lived here. People connect with that and they want to be near it.”
The lake’s transformation from weekend retreat for Birmingham and Huntsville to something approaching a destination for water recreation enthusiasts from across the country has been easily accepted by locals, according to Kris Burleson of Jasper-based Lawson Real Estate. Burleson’s firm has represented some of the biggest developments on the lake, including Emerald Point.
“The develpments we see now take great pains to construct an environment that is pleasing to everyone, including the people who don’t necessarily live in a condo or a million-dollar lake house,” Burleson said. “The days of cutting a trail through the woods to open up a trailer park are gone. Everyone sees the benefits Smith Lake represents both economically and to the local tax base. There’s very little to oppose.”
More information regarding developments and properties on Smith Lake may be obtained by calling Lawson Real Estate at 205-221-0999. Further information may be found online at www.condosandresorts.com. Information on the Emerald Point Condo project may be viewed at www.emeraldpointcondo.com.