From do re mi to la ti do — that's what developers of The Abbey at Fairview Farm hope to hear from this year's Symphony Show House fundraiser: a rising upscale market.
Up to 10,000 people will see the cozy gated addition inside the already gated Fairview Farm neighborhood who wouldn't have ventured in otherwise because of the 40th fundraiser by the Oklahoma City Orchestra League. The event is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through May 19. Tickets are $15. See www.symphonyshowhouse.com.
It's good exposure for a project aimed at upscale homebuyers that started in 2007 but was stalled by the Great Recession a year later, developer Mark Gautreaux said.
Rather than the usual one renovated house, visitors will see three new houses totally decked out for the event, which raises money for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and music education. Almost 40 designers have left their mark on 72 separate spaces across the combined 11,000 square feet of living space.
Gautreaux and homebuilder Mark Dale are partnering on The Abbey, which is the last phase of Fairview Farm, southwest of NW 164 and Western Avenue. Dale was one of the first builders in the addition when Gautreaux started it in 1993. They decided to work together on The Abbey and its 34 lots and homes, including the three on view for the Symphony Show House.
“The Trio at The Abbey” includes the Traditional, a 4,208-square-foot, two-story home at 1401 NW 158; the Contemporary, a 4,590-square-foot home with a large finished basement at 1501 NW 158; and the Italian, the smallest of the three at 2,646 square feet, at 15820 Chapel Ridge Lane.
Gautreaux said The Abbey became the venue for the Symphony Show House by happenstance. He said a friend on the Orchestra League board asked him if he knew of a potential house. Knowing that the show houses usually are large vintage mansions in Nichols Hills or Heritage Hills, he volunteered The Abbey, but not all three houses, doubting it would work.
But it did — after a little negotiation opened all three houses for the fundraiser — even though the locale in north Oklahoma City is outside the Orchestra League's usual environment and the houses, “scaled down but high end,” are more compact than the usual sprawling manses that become show houses.
Gautreaux said he and Dale wanted to create something not found elsewhere in Oklahoma City with The Abbey: smaller houses, but loaded with all the extras and amenities upscale buyers want, with rear-entry garages to keep vehicles and garage doors from detracting from the cobblestone street.
They were thinking of upper-income people, empty nesters, looking to downsize.
“We started The Abbey, as it turned out, at the worst possible time in '07. Then '08 happened and the high-end market just went into the deep freeze,” Gautreaux said.
Dale said their target market “just pulled their cards in,” because they couldn't sell the big, expensive houses they were living in and so had no desire for what he and Gautreaux were offering.
Now, the upscale market thaw is well underway, plus, with the local economy still in good shape Dale and Gautreaux are hearing from move-up buyers as well as downsizers. The Abbey has two houses occupied, the three show houses for sale and 29 lots available.
Gautreaux said deciding to become involved with the Symphony Show House — and realizing that it could serve as a kind of coming-back-out event for the addition within an addition — prompted he and Dale to proceed. They added perimeter fencing, landscaping and other work on common areas that might have remained stalled until more potential buyers were expressing interest again, he said.
The timing seems to be right on. Gautreaux said he is seeing renewed interest “and I expect to have brand-new interest.”
“We are absolutely committed to finishing this project,” he said. “There's no give-up on this deal.”