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New Lake Martin Lunch Spot: Green Valley Market & Cafe

Lake Martin lunch restaurantLake Martin has another great dining choice! The Green Valley Market and Cafe is now open.

The Green Valley Market is located in the Eclectic or Kowaliga area of Lake Martin, next to the Kudzu Corner. They are located on Highway 229 about halfway between where 229 intersects highway 50 at Castaway Island Road, and where 229 intersects highway 63 (aka Kowaliga Road) in downtown Kowaliga.

The Green Valley Market and Cafe sells sandwiches, and offers a good assortment of meat at their meat counter. If you need a lotGreen Valley market outside of food for your Fourth of July party, you may want to ask them about their catering. One of the newer trends on Lake Martin is selling ready to eat casseroles and such for people who don’t want to cook yet would like some home cookin. They sell a lot of the warm up and eat type of fare, which I am sure is very good. They also sell boutique looking spices, and little gifts, etc.

Lake Martin real estate lunchI have tried just about every sandwich they make, and I must say, I am pleasantly surprised. They serve the sandwiches with sides like potato salad or pasta salad, but my favorite is the black bean salad. Usually a lunch menu on the fru fru side does not do much for me, but their sandwiches taste really good. They use good quality meat and give generous portions. It is a great choice if you are looking for something other than fried foods.

Check them out! I recommend them heartily and wish them the best. Their phone is (334)857-3663. Street address is 2415 Red Hill Road, Eclectic, Alabama, 36024.

Related post: Four Great Lunch Meals Around Lake Martin

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Russell Lands’ Fireworks Are On, But Don’t Try At Home

Lake Martin real estate propertyLake Martin’s Fireworks Display on the Fourth of July is one of the best things about the lake area. After years of watching the fireworks show at the lake has caused me to be jaded and judgmental of any other claims to have “the best fireworks show in the land.

Many have worried that this year’s severe drought would prevent Russell Lands from putting on their annual patriotic display. After the state fire marshall banned fireworks in 33 drought affected counties, rumors have been flying around Lake Martin that there would be no fireworks show.

Fear Not! The fireworks show is on! Russell Lands General Counsel Steve Forehand confirmed in a letter that they do plan to have the fireworks display this year. Russell Lands has a “special permit from the Alabama Forestry Commission and the State Fire Marshall.

If you would like to see the fireworks, you can drive to the Lake Martin Amphitheater for the best view. It’s about a mile south of Kowaliga Bridge on highway 63. The Sweet Young Uns, Muse, and Harbor Lights will be playing after the fireworks.

By boat, you can pretty much see them at any point from Kowaliga Bridge to Martin Dam, which will be packed with thousands of boats. If you want an unimpeded view, go to the Cocktail Slough, directly north of the Amphitheater. If you go by boat, take caution. This event makes for the most dangerous time to drive a boat on Lake Martin. Combine the darkness, drunk boat drivers, inexperienced boat drivers, and (this year) exposed islands and it can be a madhouse.

Back to the Russell Lands letter – if you rent a Russell Lands cabin, watch out. Forehand Lake Martin property real estate fireworksreminds you that it is against your lease to shoot fireworks on the property – and it “could result in termination of your lease. That would be a shame.

Help Keep Lake Martin Water Level Up

HelpAlabama Power has requested to lower the required stream flow coming from Martin Dam, in an effort to keep the water level on Lake Martin from plummeting even more.  Click here for the public notice from the Corps of Engineers.

Lake martin real estate helpWillard Bowers, Vice President of Environmental Affairs at Alabama Power, made a request on May 15 to Colonel Peter F. Taylor, Commander, Mobile District, US Army Corps of Engineers, to “implement a reduction .. of flow of 10%” on Martin Dam.  He said that if they continue at the current flow, Lake Martin will be at its drought contingency level by July 4.  In short, they want to reduce the flow so that the water level on Lake Martin might have a chance of not plummeting as quickly this summer.

Col. Taylor has responded by notifying the public about this request, to give everyone a chance to have some input.  On page 3 of his notice, Col. Taylor notes that if the proposed changes are NOT implemented,  APC has indicated that the  “impact of maintaining (the current) release to the Alabama River has fallen completely on the remaining storage at Lake Martin…… Lake Martin is projected to be 14 feet below the rule curve by early August.”  I might not be right, but I read that to mean that unless something changes, Lake Martin’s water level will be at 476 by August.

What can I do?

You can contact Chuck Sumner and let him know that you support the proposed reduction in flow from Martin Dam.  Maybe you don’t support it; you can tell him that, too. 

Email:   Chuck Sumner, Inland Environmental Team
           [email protected]  (thanks Mav)

Fax:  (251)694–3815

Voice: (251)694–3857

Snail mail:

District Engineer
U.S. Army Engineer District, Mobile
P.O. Box 2288
Mobile, AL 36628–0001

DEADLINE:  10 CALENDAR DAYS FROM MAY 31, 2007

Please act now!  This won’t restore Lake Martin to its normal summer level, and might not even keep us from dipping below 480.  But at least it gives us a fighting chance!

Drought & Alabama Power Lower Lake Martin Level

Lake Martin’s water level is low this year, and it could get even lower.lake martin real estate water level

Alabama Power says
that Lake Martin’s water level started dropping on May 18 and “could be much lower on July 4.”

It is no news flash that Alabama and much of the southeast has suffered a severe drought so far in 2007.  This follows on the heels of a dry 2006.  Since part of Lake Martin’s existence depends on it maintaining a certain level downstream, it has been affected.

 

The folks at Alabama Power are not optimistic: “most streams that feed our lakes are at the lowest levels ever recorded.”

Lake Martin usually is filled to full pool, or 490 feet above sea level, by May.  As of May 15 it was just under 486, and dropping.  They are even reporting to FERC about the lower water flow.

Again, a quote from Alabama Power: “Martin is not expected to fill above 486 and will begin to drop May 18.”

Get used to it folks; prepare yourselves for reality.

lake martin real estate water alabama powerAlabama Power owns the hydroelectric Martin Dam that dams the Tallapoosa River, creating Lake Martin.  They control the water level to try and balance their power generating needs with ecological effects, recreational effects, and the commercial navigation of the Alabama River, which is downstream of the Tallapoosa.

Alabama Power is currently distributing the word through news agencies and their own press releases  that we had better be ready for a long, dry summer.

 

Related Posts:

When Does The Water Level Go Down On Lake Martin?
Mythbuster: Alabama Power Leased Lots – Lake Martin

Mythbuster: Alabama Power Leased Lots – Lake Martin

Lake Martin Alabama power leased lotAlabama Power has leased waterfront lots on Lake Martin for decades.  Yet, so much rumor, speculation, and innuendo surrounds the topic it remains mysterious to many people, real estate agents included.

Allow me to try to bust the myth on this subject.

Why are there leased lots on Lake Martin?

Lake Martin dam alabama power real estateLake Martin was created in 1923 when the Southern Company (Alabama Power) built Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River.  They bought up all of the eventual waterfront at the elevation of 490 feet above sea level.  Since old Mr. Ben Russell (founder of Russell Mills), already owned the damming rights to the Tallapoosa, the Power Company swapped him those rights for one half of the waterfront.  Pretty much every inch of the 700 miles of waterfront of Lake Martin at one time or another was owned by either Alabama Power or Old Mr. Ben.

When did Alabama Power begin to lease lots on Lake Martin?

Sometime around in the 1960s, Alabama Power allowed people to build homes on the waterfront, but they retained ownership of the land underneath the home.  The people own the sticks and bricks, the company owns the dirt.  The people paid a monthly lease to do so.  Over the years, depending on the opinions of officers at Alabama Power, the homeowners were given the chance to buy the dirt under their homes.  No rhyme or reason to it, some years they would decide to sell, other years they would institute leases.  That policy continues today.  Who knows, they may decide to start selling lots to leaseholders tomorrow.  They might not.

How does a lot lease work on Lake Martin?

These days, when Alabama Power leases a waterfront lot to homeowners, they have a written lease, just like you would for an apartment.  The lease specifies the monthly rate (currently around $400), the length of the lease (currently twenty years), and the yearly increase of the rate.  The key here is that every lot is different, so if you’re concerned, consult a lawyer.  Alabama Power assigns the lease amount when they offer new lots for lease.  They offer the lots in a bid system, meaning, the homeowners bid offers of cash to pay for the privilege of entering the lease.  If you are the top bidder, then you must pay the monthly lease rate on top of that.

What happens at the lease end?

Again, you must examine each lease to be sure of how it works.  But generally speaking, at the end of the lease, one of 4 things can happen:

1.  Alabama Power renews the lease
2.  Alabama Power sells you the lot
3.  Alabama Power buys the house from you
4.  You pick up the house and leave.

My family has been selling real estate in the Lake Martin area since 1953.  We have never heard of Alabama Power buying a house, or making someone move their house away.  Not that it is impossible, but it is, in my opinion, highly, highly, improbable.  Most of the time they either renew the lease or sell you the lot.  Once again, if in doubt, talk to a lawyer.

Can you sell a leased lot home?

One word answer – YES.  There are plenty of great leased lot homesLake Martin real estate for sale now (like this one) on Lake Martin and many that have sold in the past.  Generally speaking, you can get more house or view for your money on a leased lot house than you can on a deeded lot home, because of the existence of the lease. The transaction works just like a deeded lot sale, except you have the added step of transferring the lease to the new owner.  Alabama Power must approve this transfer, but usually it’s just a matter of paperwork.

Can you finance a leased lot home?

YES – easily.  I almost always recommend that Lake Martin buyers use lenders from around the lake.  Not because I am related to any many of them, but because lake financing is usually a bit different than your standard McHouse in McSuburbia.  Local lenders are especially handy when it comes to financing a leased lot home.  They are familiar with all of the documentation, so it’s a lot easier to work with them.

Do you own a leased lot home and have some advice to add?  Or maybe you have questions that I haven’t answered here.  If so, please comment on this post and I will do my best to answer anything else.

Related posts:

When Does The Water Level Go Down On Lake Martin?

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Lake Martin Builder Spotlight: Landmark Constr.

lake martin builder constructionLake Martin is bustling with developers, builders, sub contractors, and all types of people in the construction industry.  To shed some light on the life of one of the “good ones,” today we chat with Bradley Pemberton of Landmark Construction & Development, LLC:


1.  How do you get your sub contractors to show up on time?
 

I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere.  Seriously, I think it has to do with a number of things. First you have to know what “on time” means – proper expectations. You have to know what their work schedule will be on each project, because it will be different depending on the sub and job location.  More importantly, I think if you’re honest, pay them quickly, and accept their bid without trying to beat them down, they will respect you more and work as hard and be as productive as they can.

2.  Where do you find sub contractors that will work on Lake Martin?

These days subs will come from all over to work on Lake Martin.  I like to deal with those whom I know best and already understand their schedules and quality of work. So I will first choose subs that I like to work with that are based closest to the area.  For me that means Wetumpka, Eclectic, and Montgomery.  However it is easy to find subs in Alexander City and Birmingham.

3.  You have built all over Alabama.  What is different about building around Lake Martin?

I like several things that have been different.  I like that Tallapoosa County issues Lake Martin builder contractorbuilding permits for all projects outside of the city limits. I think this helps legitimize the contractors and maintains a level of quality for all builders.  I have enjoyed working on lots with a little change in elevation.  It’s a challenge but a lot more exciting.  You know, Montgomery is not known for its beautiful mountain views; it’s pretty flat.

4.  How do you build a spec house that is attractive to many people yet not so “cookie cutter” or clone looking?

I think you have to really concentrate on the details and the exterior.  I think custom details that either come from ideas from previous custom homes or details specific to that house that present themselves as an opportunity to make a mark, are what you have to look for.  I think you have to do the same thing either in exterior details like the eave, you know, around the roof, or on the site with landscaping or railing details. The look these days at Lake Martin is exposed natural wood, tongue and groove, stone work, with the house done in earth tone type colors.  I like a lot of stone both inside and out, cedar beams, tongue and groove ceilings, that type thing.

5.  What question did I not ask that you thought I would have asked?

I thought you would ask what I like most about construction.  And the answer is that I love to solve problems and work out the small, (seemingly) inconsequential details.  More than that, I like to see something created from a combination of materials and people’s God given abilities.  It is so fun to ride by a project and be able to proudly say “I built that.”

 

 

Thanks, Bradley, for your time.  We wish you continued success in the future.  If you would like to know how Bradley can answer your Lake Martin construction questions, call him at (334)356–2259 or contact him at Landmark Construction and Development, LLC’s home page by clicking here.

Hey Lake Martin Fishermen – Live Bait For Sale!

Kowaliga live bait and tackle - croppedLake Martin live bait fishermen have a new spot to buy bait.  Kowaliga Live Bait And Tackle is open for business.  The new store on Kowaliga Road (aka Highway 63) is south of Kowaliga Bridge.  In fact, it’s just south of my office, a tad north of the intersection with Highway 229.

The other day while driving to my office, I saw their sign, and I was so surprised that I chuckled.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I can’t remember the last time a new bait shop opened on Lake Martin.

Then, I was surprised that I was surprised.  Why not a new live bait shop?  Lake Martin has 700 miles of shoreline spread over 40,000 acres, and great fishing.  So why isn’t the live bait industry thriving right now?

When I was growing up on Lake Martin, if you wanted to fish, most of Lake Martin fishing real estatethe time you used bait.  You could stop by any old fillin station and at the very least they would sell crickets and worms.  It was commonplace.  In these days of clean, sparkly, mega-marts that sell hamburgers, haircuts, sub sandwiches, and also gas, the live bait selection has suffered.  You really have to hunt around to find it.  And even then, it’s hard to find the OSHA-defying oily tubs packed with minnows, and the stench, activity, and din of a room full of crickets.  To me, surviving a trip to the bait shop was half the fun of fishing.

Lake Martin is changing.  Is it just me, or are there really fewer live bait fishermen out there today?  The fish are still there.  Are they only being pursued by the plastic worm wielders and buzz bait boys?  Or are the fishermen being replaced by boaters?  I don’t fish as much as I used to; work is my excuse.  I’m looking forward to fishing a lot more this summer with my sons.

Lake Martin real estate cricketIncidentally, isn’t it also a sign of the times that the live bait guy has protected his business by forming an LLC?  Really – an actual legal entity was formed for the purposes, I assume, of “sellin crickets, worms, & minners.”  I applaud Kowaliga Live Bait And Tackle, and wish them the best of luck.  The next time my boys are at the cabin, our first trip will be to this new live bait guy.

If you have a tip on where else to find good bait – leave a comment / reply to this post and let us all know where to go…

Lake Martin Real Estate Spotlight: The Ridge

Lake Martin The Ridge LogoRussell Lands has developed neighborhoods on Lake Martin for over thirty years, but its newest, The Ridge, is vastly different from any one it has done before.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in The Ridge area, CLICK HERE to go to my Ridge Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Russell Lands has gated communities like Willow Point, and the Ridge is near to its other developments of Windermere, Windermere West, and Windover.  But The Ridge is a totally new animal.  Here are 5 Things That Make The Ridge Different:

1.  Heavy emphasis on selling through approved builders – Russell Lands started this Lake Martin trend a few years ago with Phase I of The Ridge, and continues it with Phase III.  They sell a certain number of lots to “approved” builders, who build spec houses and then turn around and sell them for the builders.  In prior developments, they sold almost 100% to the end homeowner.  The use of approved builders gives them much greater control over the quality of the homes.  They also get a lot of design consistency on the look of the homes by also having “approved” architects.  I think this also drives up the price so that their initial offering lot price to homeowners is pretty high.  As far as I can figure there is no real “pre-construction” pricing.

2.  The Ridge Marina – Russell Lands owns plenty of marinas around Lake Martin, but The Ridge Marina is the only one that is inside the gates of one of their developments.  It is a safe bet to say that The Ridge Marina is one of the largest marinas Ridge marina stack storage - smallon the lake.  The marina is close to Chimney Rock by water.  They sell gas, they have a huge line of boats that they sell, and also sell boating and skiing accessories.  Another big part of their business is boat storage.  You can rent a wet slip (a parking spot at a dock), but they are more expensive and rare than dry storage.  Dry storage is where they stack your boat on a huge rack inside their warehouse.  When you are ready to go, they come pick it off the rack with a forklift and put it in the water.  No matter how many times I see that it still makes me nervous.  They are adding on to the dry storage.  A company official was quoted as saying the The Ridge Marina will have the “biggest dry storage east of the Mississippi.”  That’s big, friends.

Lake Martin The Ridge Club3. The Ridge Club – Russell Lands is currently building a 9,000 square foot clubhouse called The Ridge Club.  While Willow Point has its Golf and Country Club, Willow Point residents are not necessarily members of the club, and vice versa.  In the Ridge, however, part of the homeowner association dues pays for membership to The Ridge Club.  Planned amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, athletic fields, children’s play center, workout / cardio center, and a bar and grill.  From what I hear they have commercial lots set aside for possible restaurants, etc.  See the construction progress photos on the left.  It looks like it will be as nice as promised.

4.  Off water activities- Usually, in Lake Martin new construction developments, merely token emphasis is placed on off-water lots and properties.  At The Ridge, Russell Lands attempts to offer something to do off of the water, and (I assume) by association, raise Ridge club drawing - smallthe value of off-water residential lots.  They have designed sidewalks all through the Ridge, which is very different for the lake.  They also have cut in extensive walking trails through the woods around The Ridge.  I hear that the ultimate plan is to be able to walk, run, or bike on trails from The Ridge to Willow Point.  Look at a Lake Martin map to appreciate how huge of an area that is.  They also have plans for a town center located on highway 63, close to Windermere Road, that will have kitschy shops, a high end grocery store, and a gourmet restaurant.  (I will post more news as they confirm the details.)

5.  Marketing and Events – Russell Lands has promoted The Ridge like no other Lake Martin development.  If you haven’t received at least 3 mailers on it, you should have your feelings hurt, because they sent them to everyone in the area that pays taxes and has a pulse.  They also have been all over the home design type magazines.  Their homes have had multiple spotlights in Southern Living Magazine, and had tons of other regional media attention and write ups.  They also have really played up the Spring and Summer Tour of Homes.  This spring they have even tied the events in with a boat show at The Ridge Marina.  I have to hand it to them, it works. In the past ten years Lake Martin has gone from a regional treasure to getting attention on a national level.  This was due in large part to Russell Lands’ tirele$$ promotions.

If you wonder how long this will last, check the map.  They are selling Phase III now, with (I guess) a couple more phases left up the sleeve for The Ridge.  Then it’s on to the next big thing.  Does anyone have a guess on where the next one will be?  Comment below!

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Lake Martin Home Prices Not Affected By Sales Drop?

Lake Martin Alabama real estate Bull and bear argueRest easy.  Alabama home sales have dropped, but not on Lake Martin.  Or should you be alarmed that the average sales price of a home in Lake Martin plummeted 15% in one month?  Which is it?

On March 12, 2007, Patrick McCreless wrote an article in the Alex City Outlook entitled, “Home sales still strong on Lake Martin.”  The information he quoted was from the Alabama Real Estate Research and Education Center, which (I assume) got its data from our Lake Martin Area Multiple Listings Service.  While I do not disagree with any of the data in the article, I do think it presents an interesting look at analyzing statistics of our market.

Two main stats stuck out to me:

1.     Statewide, Alabama saw the number of homes sold drop 20.4% from December 06 to January 07.  The Lake Martin Area increased its number sold to 29 from 25 in December, for a gain of 16%.  Hence the analysis that we were unaffected by the State’s slump.  I agree.

2.     At the end of the article, it sneaks in that the Lake Martin Area’s average home sales price dropped in January to $181,310 from $213,716 in December.  Again, agreed.  But – couldn’t the headline easily have been “Lake Martin Home Prices Drop 15% in One Month?”

This same article could be used both by doomsdayers to prove evidence of a dreaded “bubble” in our market and by bullish folk saying that the market is still hot.  The seeming contradiction in interpreting the data is a classic case of trying to draw too many conclusions from too small a sample.  Any professor of Statistics will tell you that the smaller the sample, the greater margin of error.  In other words, if you poll the five people you play poker with on the question of who will be the next President, the chances of them being wrong are a lot bigger than if you selected five million registered voters, randomly distributed across geographic, economic, and political lines.

The point is – be careful when you try to interpret the data of a market like Lake Martin.  We have a broad mixture of Lake Martin Real estate Bulls and bears coexisttypes of properties – on / off the water, single / multi family, modern / rural, etc. – that are spread across a relatively small number of listings.  One big sale here or there can really affect the numbers, so watch out.  Try to gather as much information as you can.  Talk to many people in the business.  Are you confused about what your property is worth, or what you should pay for a place on the Lake?  I am always willing to give my honest two cents and would be glad to help! The only way I know to do it to tell it like I see it.  See the “comments” section on this post for my email to Patrick McCreless where I provide an opinion on the contradictory stats.

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Lake Martin A Top 12 US Vacation Home Market

lake martin real estate award wall street journalThe Lake Martin real estate market was honored again on November 9, 2006, by the Wall Street Journal’s RealEstateJournal.com, by being named a Top 12 Vacation Home market in the United States.

Regional and even national accolades are becoming common for Lake Martin.  In other words, the news is getting out.  I usually don’t pay much attention to such press, but this one really got my attention.  Not that I don’t agree, I honestly believe we have a national treasure in our backyard.  I can’t understand why anybody wouldn’t want a place on Lake Martin.  I guess what really got my attention was the source: THE Wall Street Journal – the Beacon of Capitalism, the paper divinely scribed by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand itself.  I love it.  I could read it with my hair on fire, as they say.   So when they honored the lake – I noticed – and so did millions of other readers.

Economists and writers can study and parse data all they want, but they are merely confirming what we all know to be Nerdtrue.  That is, while Lake Martin real estate prices have certainly risen in the last five years, on a national level we are still a relative bargain.  And here’s a more important fact but you can’t graph it – Lake Martin is one heck of a beautiful place.  I grew up on the lake, and therefore have talked to a lot of people about their families’ experiences here.  Maybe I have only met the happy ones, but I have never met a single person that said “you know I really regret buying that place on Lake Martin.”  Plenty have said “man, the biggest mistake I made was selling (or letting mama / daddy sell) that lake place.”  Nobody ever quotes their Return On Asset or their Debt To Equity Ratio of their lake home.  They talk about memories, fun, water, boats, fish and sun.

If you don’t like to hear all of that stuff, I’ll return to the hard facts of the Journal article.  Sure, Lake Martin has beautiful water, great views, peaceful mornings, fun nights – a rich, memory making Petri dish.  So do a lot of places in the nation.  But what we do have – that most don’t – are low property prices relative to the rest of the country.  I know it sounds crazy to the folks who have watched the prices rise – but the Journal’s statisticians looked and found that the property prices in Dadeville, Alabama – one of the towns close to Lake Martin – had really low property prices for second homes relative to local income and other economic factors.  In other words, they found that chances are slim that we are experiencing a dreaded B-word in real estate prices. I agree with them.  I also agree that there are certain segments of the market that have a lot of supply or are overpriced or both.  But, when compared as a whole to the rest of the nation’s vacation markets, we’re still a bargain – and a memory maker to boot.

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