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Home developer brings the future to North Plains

Lennar opens its second solar community in Washington County

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE: TRAVIS LOOSE - At a glance, the homes dont appear any more special than any other new home. But upon closer inspection, all the included state-of-the-art, high-tech features that would be upgrades at other homes -- like USB-ported electric outlets -- are revealed. At a glance, the quiet town of North Plains might not seem like the place to find a cutting-edge, technologically advanced neighborhood, but the nation’s second largest homebuilder is currently building a new “solar community” off Southwest Glencoe Road, which city officials hope will change how Washington County residents identify the small city just north of the Sunset Highway.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - From left, New Home Consultant Farah Seibel, Vice President of Sales Chris Kincaid, and Marketing Manager Sia Howe stand outside Lennars solar show home at McKay Creek Crossing in North Plains.Construction crews with Miami-based homebuilder Lennar Corporation is working on their first development in North Plains. All of the homes at McKay Creek Crossing, 10130 N.W. Bartlett Loop, are solar paneled and are expected to create between 60 and 70 percent of a family’s energy needs, according to Chris Kincaid, Lennar’s vice president of sales.

“The roof is dead real estate,” he said. “Why not put it to good use?”

Solar panels may seem out of place in North Plains, a small farming town of only 2,100 people, but Blake Boyles, North Plains’ city manager, said it’s part of being competitive in Washington County.

“We’re very excited about having our first solar community,” he said. “We’ve seen so much change in the last year alone ... everybody wants to maintain their small town roots, but everybody understands that growth is inevitable — and growth brings change.”

Over the past year, North Plains has grown by roughly 200 new residences, a roughly 10 percent increase in population, and those numbers are expected to rise. Nine of the new solar homes have been released for sale so far, but the community will have 52 single-family residences by the time the neighborhood is completed, Kincaid said. Lennar officials are in discussions to build an additional 27 homes on an adjoining lot to the north.

McKay Creek is Lennar’s second solar community in Oregon, offering the latest and greatest in energy efficient, solar housing technology. The first was Laurel Oaks in south Hillsboro. Both communities officially opened in July.

“We expect a good mix of families just starting out and tenured couples scaling down, but we’ll also get high tech workers from Hillsboro,” Kincaid said. “We’re all about the technology.”

Kincaid said that the neighborhood is meant to be a more affordable solution for Washington County, where home prices have risen dramatically. A house of the same size in Bethany sold for an additional $100,000 to $150,000 just a few years ago, Kincaid said.

“There are $20,000 worth of included features that are considered upgrades at other places,” he said. “What you see is what you get. We’re anticipating a strong demand.”

Kincaid said he expects the new community to draw in Orenco-area and Bethany-area residents — even people from Portland proper — who are tired of paying high rents.

The homes range from 1,760 to 2,100 square feet, and cost between $346,000 and $385,000 — with mortgage payments averaging $800 to $2,000 per month.

For the high-tech homes currently under construction, however, low-emissivity windows, LED lighting, blown-in installation, enclosed ductwork, and tank-less, on demand water heaters are only a few of the energy efficient amenities Lennar has to offer.

“They don’t build them like they used to,” Kincaid said. “They build them way better.”

By Travis Loose
Reporter, Hillsboro Tribune
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