Firm's president passes self-test, creates mansion A BUILDER'S FANTASYLAND

June 05, 1994|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

In 14 years, Bruce Scherr had just about built it all, from sprawling homes in the suburbs to affordable, $72,000 townhouses in the city. Then he met the ultimate challenge.

As an officer in the Home Builders Association of Maryland, the president of Scherr Homes had worked on planning a "Dream Homes" exposition three years ago. As the economy began improving, the group finally found a central site that could support $500,000-plus homes and a developer -- Greenebaum & Rose Associates -- who could work with multiple builders.

Mr. Scherr decided to buy one of the lots himself.

"I wanted to test myself to see if I could build a fabulous mansion and bring it in as a value-priced home," he said. "I love building. Why limit myself? I wanted to try to branch out into the upper scale."

Mr. Scherr believes he has passed his own test with his $685,000 "Country Mansion" model. He has started building new, luxury homes in Kingsville in the $450,000-to-$600,000 range.

Exposure from "Dream Homes" -- showcasing the latest in floor plans, home products, building technology, energy efficiency and interior and landscape design -- will help him sell more homes, Mr. Scherr said.

"This is only one house, and selling one house won't be the end of my career," he said. "Name recognition is very important."

And it is one of the main reasons the nine builders joined the project, in which all homes are for sale and part of the $6-per-person admission fee goes to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

"Certainly we want to sell these homes," said Clark Turner, president of the association and Dream Homes chairman.

"But there's a much more limited market for that. There's a much wider market when you step down in price. Builders think this can help their awareness to the public."

"We saw this as something exciting for the building industry in general and wanted to be one of the charter participants," said Fran Schindler, vice president of Lexington Homes, which sells houses from $150,000 to $300,000.

"We think it will pay off, though we may not see the payoffs for some time," in terms of increased name recognition and sales.

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