The slumping economy has prompted Parr's Ridge, Carrol County's only luxury condominium complex, to offer buyers a little less glitz and a lower price.
Parr's Ridge, in Westminster across the street from Western Maryland College, recently began selling a more affordable, less luxurious condominium in addition to its original models.
Starting at $79,900, the new condominium, called "The Meade," has the roominess of the pricier models. But it lacks extra features such as fireplaces, lofts and whirlpool baths.
"There's less of the glitz," said Linda Ballard Birch, sales manager at Parr's Ridge. "This is for people who are willing to give upsome of the luxury items for space and the chance to still be a part of a luxury community."
Since it opened 2 1/2 years ago, Parr's Ridge has catered mainly to buyers who are selling a home and can afford prices ranging from $90,000 to $124,000. The community is made up mostly of retired professionals and empty nesters.
That is not expected to change, said Sam Black, project manager for Parr's Ridge. "We're still in the empty-nester market," he said. "The same people [who bought the more expensive models] are coming back for the Meade.
"Some first-time buyers might stretch into [this price range], but really, this is something affordable for the empty nester."
Centennial Westminster Limited Partnership, the California-based developer of Parr's Ridge, came up with the idea for a less-expensive condominium after the economy turned downward and many potential buyers found they could not sell their homes at the prices they expected, Mr. Black said.
Twenty-four of the lower-priced condominiums should be ready for occupancy by November, he said. Seven contracts already have been signed since Parr's Ridge began offering the Meade last month.
The Meade comes in two versions: a one-bedroom with den and a two-bedroom model. The one-bedroom starts at $79,900 and has 1,066 square feet. The two-bedroom unit is available in several models that average 1,137 square feet; prices range from $81,990 to $83,990.
Buyers of the Meade pay a monthly condominium fee of $86 to $93, which covers the cost of outside maintenance and use of a clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis courts.
Meade condominiums feature large living rooms (16 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 6 inches), a dining room and a porch or terrace. `D Storage space is even more generous than in the original models. Large closets, intercoms for controlled access, wall-to-wall carpeting and kitchen appliances, including a dishwasher and microwave, are standard.
Parr's Ridge is on 21 acres along Route 31, across the road from a working farm and within walking distance of the Western Maryland College golf course.
About 168 condominium units are planned; 56 have been built. All but 10 of the 56 built have been sold, Ms. Birch said.
Shelley Bailey, a 50-year-old secretary at Liberty High School, moved to her one-bedroom condominium with loft last May, after living for years in a Carroll County home situated on several acres.
Typical of most people who have bought a Parr's Ridge condominium, Ms. Bailey had raised a family and was tired of the hassles of taking care of a home.
"It was too much," she said. "I have more fun things to do with my life than take care of a yard. This is the only way to live."
Ms. Bailey noted, however, that though the new, lower-priced models may make Parr's Ridge affordable for some young couples looking for a first home, this community may not be the best choice for them.
There is not enough space for children, she said, nor is there room for a lawn, garden or picnic tables -- all things most young people want when they buy their first home and start a family.
On the other hand, the Meade is well-suited to the needs of older, single people, especially women who want the security of a controlled-access condominium, Mr. Black said. Visitors cannot enter the gabled condominium buildings without being granted access through an electronic beeper system.
In addition to the 24 Meade condominiums, 24 more of the original luxury models are scheduled to be ready for occupancy this fall, Mr. Black said.