Being a real estate writer has depressingly few perks. I don’t get free tickets to concerts or desert on the house at Michael Mina. The product I write about, you see, can’t really fit in a gift bag. Mostly, I get accused of being a Realtor (I’m not) or of being “in bed” with the NAR (which again, I’m not. That sounds exhausting, by the way.)
But two weeks ago this perk-less-ness changed. Together with several other writers from across the country, I was flown to Tahoe for an all-expenses-paid tour of/experience with Northstar’s new Home Run. Aptly named, the development is a system of homes built mid-mountain, far above the (pleasurable, but at times, overly popular) melee of the Village. No waiting in line for the lift, folks. The ski run awaits just a few steps from your back deck. Wake up, ski out. Sweet!
Still, sometimes when I see construction in the middle of a forest, no matter how spectacular that construction, I feel uncomfortable. You know this feeling? Human guilt? But at least here, as with all Mountain Residences projects, East West developers aim for LEED certification for each home- and we were introduced to many trees (including my favorite, old “Grandpa”) and rock formations that had to be protected, built around rather than pulled from the earth.
Construction with a conscience means I was better able to relax, take in my surroundings, which that day were sparkly- a cold blue sky setting the freshly falling snow ablaze, everything studded with tiny diamonds on fire. Between each of the Home Run residences lie trails, tunnels, and bridges- everything inter-connected. It’s very exclusive-village-in-the-Alps: charming architecture, soaring vistas, the hush of a thick blanket of snow.
Our group toured one model home, mostly complete, which you see pictured here. The view alone made me want to hide in the (huge! Sexy!) bathroom until everyone left so I could stay forever. So what if the water wasn’t hooked up yet? I had miles of it, frozen and pristine, for my private use right outside.
But we had plenty to look forward to, including a meal at the Ritz Carlton which also rests mid-mountain. Over course after course of carefully paired wine and cuisine (developed under San Francisco’s own, chef Traci Des Jardins), we learned that two of the custom home lots have already been purchased, one by a young “Silicon Valley tech” family (for some reason, I thought Zynga. Unconfirmed). We also learned what Northstar is doing to change its more “vintage” easy-going (read “affordable to the middle-class”) ski area image. Purchased by Vail (of Vail, Colorado), Northstar is in full luxury market upgrade mode, adding high –end shops, linking new developments with exclusive rights to the Ritz and Schaffer’s Camp, and planning to cut ski runs on Sawtooth Mountain whose verticality will do away, finally, with the “Flat Star” label. Meanwhile, the wine and food kept coming. I was drunk on luxury.
The almost surreal opulence of it all was capped off by the gondola ride back down to the Village at Northstar, a full moon casting blue light over the snowy expanse.
Back home now, I offer you this story, and the skinny on Home Run, because if I had the money, I would buy in immediately. I can see Christmas up there with my parents and maybe the kids I’ll have one day. I can see a week there, just me and my man, in our hot tub sunk deep in the snow. I see summers on my bike, hiking with my dog, and many, many gondola rides to the Ritz. And remember, I am just a real estate writer and teacher: not only can I actually not afford to buy one, I receive nothing if anyone else can and does, even if that person does so because s/he saw my story. And yes, East West wined and dined the writers. But that was two weeks ago. The wine’s worn off. The food’s digested. I can hardly be asked to give it back should I chose not to write about Mountain Residences. But why would I choose that, when I can’t stop thinking about how cool they are?
3-4 bedroom, 1,900-3,200 square-foot, Home Run townhomes are priced from $1.6-$2.3 million. East West Partners anticipates Home Run move-ins to begin spring 2012, so that means right now. If you’re lucky enough to be in the market for your own private ski-in/ski out chalet just a short drive from the Bay Area, you should grab Alex, grab your skis, and head to Northstar.
Say hi to Grandpa as you ski by.
[Guest Post By Anna Marie Hibble…THANKS ANNA!]