Daily photos by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Bobby Shelton on a porch of one of the homes he is building in Hartselle. Shelton is trying to create a neighborhood of homes with the charm of houses found in Old Decatur.
comes to Hartselle
Ausley Bend development has an old look with new amenities
By Deangelo McDaniel
HARTSELLE — The sun was setting in a valley called Ausley Bend in the northern part of Hartselle.
Art Hickman walked out to his front porch with his wife, Karen, and their children, Brock and Haley.
The sunset reflected off the man-made lake across the street. The Hickmans knew they were in their paradise, the home and community they dreamed about when they purchased a set of Southern Living house plans.
Their paradise is actually Bobby Shelton’s three-phase housing development that covers almost 120 acres of some of the most desirable property in Morgan County.
On two sides, Flint Creek borders the mixed-use development Shelton launched almost two years ago. Minus the white-picket fence, Ausley Bend is as close to Mayberry as you will see in this area.
The homes are equipped with modern amenities, but from the outside, they have the appearance, by design, of old Decatur.
The dream, Shelton said, was to go back to his childhood when communities had parks, walking trails, and a small business where getting a loaf of bread was just around the corner.
It is not developed, but the plans include a commercial lot for a small business like a barbershop or accounting office.
“Who knows, we could even put a small grocery store or service station here,” Shelton said.
The emphasis, however, is residential development where Shelton purposely has brought old Decatur to the countryside.
So far, he has invested $3 million in what he believes is a unique residential community in Morgan County.
“No use worrying,” he said about the investment. “Once you start, there is no stopping. I have to make money at some point, but my primary goal was not to make money.”
Shelton said he wanted a community that was not rows of brick homes with similar looks.
He provides house plans he hopes builders will select. But, builders can provide their own plans as long as they are Victorian or French Country and have a porch.
Contractors have constructed eight homes in the development and five remain for sale. Lot prices are between $39,500 and $49,500. The homes for sale range from $242,900 for a three bedroom, 2,109-square-foot home to $279,900 for a two-story, three bedroom, 2,443-square-foot home.
Art Hickman said you can’t put a price on what the community offers. As soon as Shelton announced plans for the development in May 2005, the Hickman’s sold their Hartselle home.
New homes are developing on Ausley Bend Road in Hartselle. So far, Bobby Shelton has invested $3 million in what he believes is a unique residential community in Morgan County. Shelton said he wanted a community that was not rows of brick homes with similar looks.
“We have always wanted to build a new home with an old look,” he said. “We have the look we wanted and modern technology. And when that sunset comes over the pond, it’s the best view in Hartselle.”
The Hickmans have front and back porches, a sunroom and a deck. The family selected five-inch pine boards for flooring instead of carpet or traditional hardwood. The master bedroom has an old-style faucet tub and coffee bar. The bottom floor is spacious and mostly windows.
“This development has allowed us to build what we wanted to build,” Hickman said. “We’re thrilled to death to be here.”
Shelton, who was the first resident in Ausley Bend, said he selected Hartselle for the development because the city is one of the best-kept secrets in North Alabama.
Hartselle, he said, has good schools and is near Interstate 65, Decatur and Huntsville. The Target shopping center is about six miles from Ausley Bend.
“People can live here and be close enough to bigger cities,” Shelton said.
There’s also the quality of life issue. One of the first things Shelton constructed in the development was a 3.5-acre lake and creek.
Future plans include a community park, walking trails and a community center. He purposely designed plans to include at least 17 percent green space.
“This is a throwback community where baby boomers will want to come,” Shelton said. “People can build something old-looking with everything new in it.”
So far, all of the homes are two-story with detached garages. Shelton said the next homes he constructs will be single-story with attached garages. But, all will have privacy fences in the back.
“As much as this is a community, we know there are times when people want privacy,” Shelton said.
Ausley Bend information
Ausley Bend has a real estate agent on site every Sunday from 2 until 5 p.m.
For additional information about the development, contact Bobby Shelton at 874-2294 or Angel Shelton at 874-7194.
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