Hidden Lake, a gated lakeside development with some home prices topping $1 million, is about to make its debut in southern Franklin County – again.
For months, crews have been removing fallen trees, making repairs and mowing grass in a development that never fully came to fruition after it broke ground in the mid-2000s.
The original developer, Crescent Communities, was hit hard by the recession, including a period of bankruptcy. Only a handful of homes were completed before the project stagnated.
Now, Ange Signature Homes is hoping to bring dozens of new homeowners to a growing area just over the Wake County line.
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Ange Signature, a custom builder, bought the Crescent property last year for $3.4 million and picked up the land held by others for millions more.
As the sole builder in the development, Ange has 56 lots where buyers can design and build a house or customize one already under construction. The homes are expected to sell for between $600,000 and $1.5 million.
The lots are nestled among 227 acres of green space including a 75-acre lake stocked with fish, a 100-acre nature preserve and four miles of trails. Crescent originally made more than $33 million in improvements to the site, and Ange Signature has followed up with “hundreds of thousands more,” according to the company.
“We’re really excited about being out here and taking pride in maintaining everything. When you come in, there’s nothing about it that doesn’t feel new,” said Rusty Ange, vice president of Ange Signature.
The development, including a second phase on 176 acres across the lake, could last for a decade, he said.
Ange is betting that the seclusion and tranquility of Hidden Lake, coupled with new amenities in Franklin County, will draw buyers. Residents have access to new schools, grocery stores and other shops in Youngsville and the surrounding areas that they previously would have had to travel to reach.
“Every day there’s more construction on Route 1 and nicer facilities,” he said.
Franklin County’s population has grown to more than 60,000 since 2000, when it had 47,000 people. Most of the growth is in the southern part of the county, said Richie W. Duncan, existing industry coordinator for the county’s economic development commission.
The revenue from single-family home inspection fees was at its highest level last year since 2007-08, she said.
Jonathan Barefoot, vice president of business development at Fonville Morisey Barefoot, a real-estate company selling homes in Hidden Lake, said that overall, northern Wake and southern Franklin have become increasingly attractive for buyers.
“The growth has got to go somewhere and with the way a lot of (prices) are going in Raleigh, it’s going to go north,” he said.
But Barefoot said he expects Hidden Lake buyers won’t be swayed so much by prices as by the amenities, such as lots of up to 6 acres and the lake views.
Catherine Hill has lived in the neighborhood for three years and loves the quiet there. She’s glad to see Ange Signature tidying up for the prospect of new neighbors.
“It’s always nice to have a little community,” she said.
Ronnie Goswick, economic development director for Franklin County, worked on the Hidden Lake land in the early 1970s when it was a farm run by Walter Thomas, a professor at N.C. State University.
Goswick remembers watching Thomas dig out the pond that would become the lake.
“One of these days this is going to be an expensive piece of land,” Thomas would tell Goswick as he moved a few yards of dirt each day.
Four decades later, Thomas might not be surprised to see the results.
“He was a smart man,” Goswick said.
The development will be open for the Parade of Homes for both Wake and Franklin counties on weekends through Oct. 19.