News & Announcements

Local Builder Plans Peaked by Obama

Fri, Sep 10, 2010

News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Leslie Savitch 509-308-0847



When the First Family announced that Michelle Obama’s mother was moving to Washington D.C. to help take care of the children, it moved local home builder Varsity Development’s Leslie Savitch to change his plans. In the ensuing 18 months, Savitch found no less than 20% of his “move-up” homes, called Oasis Custom Homes, were ordered for “extended families” like the Obama's. In a torturous housing market that has wracked the industry since the beginning of the worst housing recession in a generation that began in 2006, there are few bright spots. One is the eastern Washington market in general and certain pockets of demand like this one in particular.


Savitch indicated that according to the National Association of Home Builders, of which his firm s a member,  the number of multi-generational households has grown from 5 million in 2000 to 6.2 million in 2008. He said the same organization forecasted that nearly a quarter of baby boomers expect that their parents or in-laws will move in with them- and half of those who anticipate that living arrangement are excited about it. NAHB research indicates that older familymembers were included partially for financial assistance, but more often than not just because it was something the families wanted to do.


Builder Savitch indicated, “Certainly the ‘cover’ from Obama and economic realities of recessionary times have contributed to families making room for both older members and adult children who left home only to return. For older parents certain universal design features of a home need to be incorporated to promote safe, comfortable living,” he said.


To accommodate that trend Oasis Custom Homes originated a line of homes it calls its “Extended Family” plans each that offer an enlarged garage with its own access to a main floor living area and separate entrance with storage, coat closet, stack washer and dryer, bedroom and master bathroom-sized accommodations- all with 3’ doorways. At prices that start under $250,000 it was important to make the homes as affordable as possible, according to Savitch.


The builder whose model homes and active housing neighborhoods are located in Kennewick, Pasco, South Richland, West Richland, Connell and Moses Lake Washington is introducing the newest permutation of plans at a Parade of Homes event in Tri-Cities in September.


Varsity Development, LLC operates in eastern Washington as an organization focused on creating various “brands” of housing each directed at the housing needs and requirements of specific buyer groups of entry level, move-up and retirement or move-on housing. Its purpose is to develop and build homes in a series of multi-generational neighborhoods comprised of those diverse housing types, thus providing for a rich mosaic of ages and backgrounds.


According to managing member Leslie Savitch, “we’re trying to give impetus to a traditional neighborhood concept where young marrieds can move into a home next door to a retired couple that’s across the street from a large family. What’s happened in recent years as a continuous result of urban sprawl is that we’ve built a series of communities where neighbors are all of the same age, family size and income level. What’s more each of their houses appear pretty much the same. At Varsity Development we seek architectural continuity on one hand while offering enough diversity in look and style and color to offer a compelling streetscape.”


The company offers three different distinct brands of homes or “families” of homes. Entry level homes priced from $133,900 to $179,900 are called “CountryVillage Homes;” their move-up line of homes sized 2000-3500 sf and priced $200,000 to $350,000 is called “Oasis Custom Homes,” while their retirement homes that offer one-story plans in the 1900-2500 sf range for $200,000 to $300,000 offer wider, 3’ doorways, no steps and other universal design features. While the overall look of the homes and general design characteristics are designed by SRM Architects of Portland, Oregon, local drafting and design is provided by V3 Drafting. Interior design is provided by Juli Schilling of Kenmore, Washington.


The company’s early variation, Varsity Homes, Inc. was founded in 1979 and operated continuously as a single home construction company that from time to time built garages and provided restoration services until it sold to Savitch in 2005. While buying the assets of Varsity Homes, he formed Varsity Development, LLC as part of his longstanding marketing and business consulting company Target Group Marketing, Inc. The company grew in revenues of just over $4 million in 2004 to over $16 million in 2010 with expected 70 homes built and 64 closed. The company expects to build over 100 homes in 2011 for a volume of $26 million.


Varsity builds in its own neighborhoods in several locations and in the subdivisions of other developers in others. It has representative furnished, decorated model homes staffed weekly by salespeople in Creekstone in Kenewick, Oasis at the Park in Pasco off Road 52, Connell at Oasis Village at Connell, and at Stratford Road Estates in Moses Lake. Varsity is opening its own neighborhoods this year in South Richland at Keene Road and in West Richland at Collins Ridge. It’s construction and development lenders include Community Bank of Hermiston, Banner Bank, Bank Reale, GESA Credit Union, Sterling Financial, M&T Bank and Yakima Federal Savings and Loan.


Company management includes beside Savitch include Larry Lee formerly a practicing cpa and currently the firm’s controller; Tim Kangas the production manager; Stephanie Hopperstad the operations coordinator; and Gabrielle Savitch the warranty manager.

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