Green Homes

Highland Homes Like to invest in real estate? Like environmentally-friendly technologies and products? Here’s an interesting venture.

In last month’s issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, they ran an article featuring young (read: under 40) millionaire entrepreneurs. Along with an impressive cast, one of the duos profiled is Bob Shallenberger & John Cavanagh, founders of Highland Homes.

Bob , 37, and John, 38, are fraternity brothers from St. Louis University who both had real estate development experience before banding together in 2003 to create the St. Louis-based “homebuilder with innovative designs, green developments and urban lifestyle,” as they state on their website.

They use green housing methods such as “sustainably grown wood, rooftop decks, underground parking, lots of parklike green space and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems.” Such techniques offer them a competitive advantage as well.

Says Cavanagh about green building, “It’s difficult and it’s expensive to learn. It’s challenging, and there’s some risk in it. We see it as a big growth segment of the market.” Their next move? “Being recognized as the top green residential builder in the country is the goal for us,” he says.

That could possibly happen, if they play their cards right. I certainly agree that green buildings (both residential and commercial) will become a huge market in the future. With the way the environment is going, I don’t think we have much choice.

Highland Homes doesn’t just aim for environmentally-conscious customers though. They also cater to the luxury market. “Each new home comes with a plasma TV and the option of special packages like ‘Elvis Live,’ which includes a stereo, karaoke machine, CD player and iPod Nano.” Another one of their current options, the Super Bowl Shuffle, contains a 50″ plasma TV, Sony Surround Sound, 2 front & 2 rear speakers, center channel & subwoofer, DVD/CD player, a Sony Playstation 3, and Madden NFL 2007.

Not bad. And even better, especially for California Bay Area real estate investors, are some of the prices:

Kilmore Condominiums near St. Louis University (all 2bd, 2ba, 1500 sq ft):

  • 7011 Dartmouth Ave 1FL – $249,900
  • 7011 Dartmouth Ave 2FL – $259,900

6416 Cates Condominiums near St. Louis University (all 2bd, 2ba, 2000 sq ft):

  • 6416 Cates Ave. 1FL – $314,900
  • 6416 Cates Ave. 2FL – $339,900
  • 6416 Cates Ave. 3FL – $359,900
  • 6416 Cates Ave. 4FL – $379,900

Donegal Condominium near St. Louis University (3bd, 2ba, 2000 sq ft):

  • 6404 Cates Ave. 2E – $319,900

Highland Walk Townhomes at The Hill in St Louis (3bd, 2.5ba, 2050 sq ft):

  • 5717 Arsenal St. – $299,900
  • 5719 Arsenal St. – $299,900
  • 5723 Arsenal St. – $299,900

To be fair, I’m not a real estate investor. I just happened to read about these guys and thought it was an interesting opportunity for someone. The prices are lower than the $700k – $1.5M I see in the Bay Area, though I know that doesn’t mean Highland Homes’ prices are a bargain it in St. Louis.

(Also, I have no affiliation with these guys, nor am I getting any money for this. I just thought it was a cool idea. Plus, I like hearing about green businesses.)

There’d be lots of factors to consider if you wanted to buy or invest a green home with these guys. Are their methods sound? Will they actually stand the test of time? Presumably, they will, since the guys are living in homes they’ve built. How are the neighborhoods there? Being next to a university means lots of possible renters, but is the rental market healthy? How about the country-wide real estate downturn? Will the rising costs of housing materials hurt them? Could their prices drop as sub-prime fears depress the market?

Hmm. Lots to consider. And if you’re a serious real estate investor, I’m sure you have many more important questions. But hey, if this is a sound investment, and you want to invest in green AND real estate, here’s a chance to combine the two!

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

3 thoughts on “Green Homes”

  1. Highland Homes has experienced tremendous success with its first Affordable GREEN development Highland park in St. peters, Missouri. Phase I of the 265+ unit Affordable GREEN condo development is more than 60% presold…3 buildings are under roof with another 4 coming out of the ground. The next Affordable GREEN development by Highland Homes — a 240+ unit mixed-use condo/retail development named Highland Terrace in O’Fallon, Missouri — is underway awaiting approval of tax assistance to help offset remediation costs to clean up the site which was once a dilapidated Trailer Park. More than 50% of Building #1 is sold before construction has begun. My partner, John Cavanagh, and I are proud to build GREEN…and even more proud to be able to provide GREEN work-force housing during this trying economic time.

  2. It would be interesting if you followed up on your article and took a look at these guys again. It has been about 1 year since you wrote about them – see if they are still even solvent…

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