Sunday, August 5, 2007

Our Beaches Are Expanding?

Well. They are expanding at least in the sense that real estate agents are greatly expanding the area that they market as "at the beach." The News Journal has a story this morning on the growing tendency of the real estate industry to market western Sussex County as beach lands.

In Marketers offer beach living in Bridgeville, Rachael Jackson looks at Heritage Shores, the large 55-and-older subdivision that has been tacked-on to Bridgeville. She notes that, while the development is about 45 minutes drive from the beaches, it is marketed as a beach development. She notes that this is a growing trend, not only here but nationally.
"It's definitely something that we're seeing going around nationally," said David E. Johnson, chief executive of Strategic Vision LLC, an Atlanta-based public relations and marketing agency that works with developers. Johnson said that in Florida, it's not uncommon for "beach" developments to be as much as an hour away from the sea.
I've been thinking about this trend lately. I touched on it last fall in a post that started out as a look at trends in development-naming. I was annoyed then by a development named "...at Rehoboth" that is a good 10 mile drive west of Rehoboth Beach. This isn't a large urban area, where you can go 10 miles and still be in the same place. I counted at least five named places between Rehoboth Beach and "...at Rehoboth."

What's going on is fairly simple. The land that is actually at the beach is just about completely developed. There is still room of course, but as it becomes less and less, the value goes ever higher and the new places at the beach rise out of the price range of most of the market.

So we build farther away from the beach. But "The Beach" is the main marketing tool for this area. So we have to redefine what constitutes "The Beach."

Vicki York, Realtor at Millville-based At the Beach Realty, said that beach boundaries have been redefined. Today, with an office as far west as Dagsboro, she said only 25 percent of the properties she works with are east of the Assawoman Canal, the traditional marker for the beach property area.

"If you get five minutes away from the beach, some people are like, 'What's another 10 or 15 minutes?' " she said.

Well, I'd say that it's another 10 or 15 minutes in a car, burning fossil fuels, adding air pollution, and clogging roads that are not designed to handle the load.

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