Lake Martin Voice Realty
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Lake 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 lot 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.
I 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
Lake 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 reminds 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! Alabama 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.
Willard 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)
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!
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.
Alabama 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.
Free boats Lake Martin!!
Russell Lands’ big event is the Russell Marine In-Water Boat Show and Spring Tour of Homes at The Ridge. It is scheduled for two weekends, April 28 & 29 and also May 5 & May 6.
For the past couple of years, Russell Lands has done a couple of the Tour of Homes deals per year at The Ridge. This year they are combining it with a Boat Show at the Ridge Marina, hence the lengthy title “Russell Marine In-Water Boat Show & Spring Tour of Homes.
Basically you can go out to the Ridge Marina and test drive some boats. I understand they will have ski boats, Hurricanes, pontoon boats, etc. Then, you hop in the car and go on the Spring Tour of Homes at the Ridge. Each of the featured homes will have a nice new boat parked out front.
Here it is – the payoff – the “free boat – : “if you buy one of the nine feature(d) homes you will also receive a brand new boat from Russell Marine.
Considering that the nine featured homes are all priced at over $1 million, the “free boat is a nice gesture, but it’s not like it’s worth 10% of the home’s value or anything.
But, if you or any of your loved ones need a house and a boat, and would like to buy one (or all!) nine homes, and would like to receive one or nine “free boats, just give me a call, I would be glad to arrange it!
Lake 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 the 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.
Incidentally, 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…
Russell 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 on 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.
3. 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 the 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!
It’s lunchtime on Lake Martin – where should we eat? When I was growing up on Lake Martin, there weren’t many restaurants around the Lake, much less on the water. Families had to pack their on provisions and make do. You drove to the cabin, unpacked everything, and lived on ribbon sandwiches, chicken salad, hamburgers, and BBQ.
Today we have many places to eat, with more on the horizon. I eat a lot of lunches around Lake Martin, so let me suggest four great lunch orders, in no particular order:
1. Cotton’s BBQ – a couple of miles south of Kowaliga Bridge on highway 63. In my humble opinion they have the best Q the closest to Lake Martin. When I am really hungry I go for a double cheese with a BBQ sandwich and polish it off with a slice of egg custard pie. Otherwise I go for the sandwich with fries. I absolutely love good BBQ, but I detest bad BBQ. Cotton’s passes every time.
2. Oskar’s – when in Lake Martin’s Blue Creek area, it’s a great spot. I have tried almost everything on the menu, it’s hard to go wrong here. If I’m in a big hurry I do the lunch veggie special. Also I love the catfish fillet sandwich – but I get it blackened – not fried, with no sauce and no onions. Oskar’s is a rare find in that they actually know how to cook fish correctly – juicy and hot yet not overdone. Lots of restaurants, most of which charge quadruple their prices, could learn from Oskar’s.
3. Kowaliga – You can call it Sinclair’s on the Lake or Cecil’s at Kowaliga or whatever, but it will always be Kowaliga to me. The name has changed over the years, but the best lunch order has not. Order the same thing we have been getting since they were in that old building with the carpet hanging from the rafters. Forgo the fancy stuff and order a plate of onion rings. Wash it down with a cold beverage and soak in the ambiance. If you’re really hungry get a burger. The rings and the view are the best on Lake Martin. You won’t be disappointed. In the springtime they are only open for lunch Friday through Sunday, so you may want to call to make sure they are open.
4. Chuck’s – another Blue Creek gem. Your order? What else? Pizza. It’s very good, even by city folks’ standards. Great atmosphere, too. They sometimes have a band there, and it’s perfect for people watching. Tip – call ahead from your boat to place your order if you want to grab and go.
Bonus meal – it’s a couple of miles north of highway 280 in Alex City, but Sho’ Nuff BBQ is worth a look if you are in the area. Order the Sho’ Nuff Baked Potato. It sounds weird but trust me, it will hit the spot.
Can you think of a great lunch meal that I have left out? Leave a reply, and share it with everyone else, too!
The Lake Martin area is in for another musical treat – the Jazz Fest has finalized its lineup for 2007 (all times Central PM):
Friday, June 8, 2007 at the Strand Park in downtown Alex City
6:00 – 7:00 – The Robin Hill Band – local Alex City band
7:30 – 9:00 – Kelley Hunt – Roots R&B / Americana singer / songwriter / piano player
9:30 – 11:00 – Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen –
“Jon Cleary is the ninth wonder in the world.” – Bonnie Raitt
Saturday, June 9, 2007 at the Lake Martin Amphitheater
6:00 – 7:00 – Wes Jeans – a powerful young guitar slinger; a player that drops the unsuspecting jaw of Blues lovers everywhere; a player some have said “is destined to be a Texas legend – a truly genuine Texas Blues Player”..
7:30 – 9:00 – The Lee Boys – Sacred steel is a type of music described as an inspired, unique form of Gospel music with a hard-driving, blues-based beat. The musical genre is rooted in Gospel, but infused with rhythm and blues, jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop, country and ideas from other nations.
9:30 – 11:00 – Edwin McCain – Blending equal parts folk, soul and rock, platinum-selling singer/songwriter Edwin McCain has signed with Vanguard Records.
Both events are free and open to the public. There is a $10 parking fee for Saturday night. For more details, read my previous Jazz Fest post.
See you there!
The 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 true. 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.