South Bend Tribune

Baldwin Landing


Tribune Correspondent

Just a year ago, developer Paul DeLano and his family were the only residents of his 18-lot Baldwin Landing on nine acres along the south side of Baldwin Lake near Union, Mich.

Today, despite reports of a recession in the real estate market, the subdivision is nearly half sold. In the past year, Delano has sold six houses priced from $580,000 to $800,000.

That’s six of the eight lakefront properties sold in that price range among more than 45 listed in the area that includes Baldwin, Birch, Corey, Klinger, Long and Coverdale lakes.

DeLano says the home-style neighborliness of the development helps draw buyers from Michiana as well as the Chicago market. Two of the newest neighbors are families from South Bend and Bristol.

A side benefit they come to love is the sense of community,” he says. “During the summer, when everybody’s up there, every night people are out we have a bonfire.

“The kids go out and play flashlight tag. People just love it. It’s one of those things. There’s a pavilion with a barbecue.”

Some buyers spend the weekend inspecting their homes’ construction while boating, grilling and hanging out with the people who live there.

“We liked the features, the joint ownership of the common areas – the beach, the pavilion, the sand volleyball court, the piers, the beach lockers and all that,” says John Mang, whose lives in Crown Point and finished his Baldwin Landing house in April.

“It’s very easy for somebody that just wants to come up for a few days and go home. It’s like going to a vacation home. It’s quiet. It seems to be out of the way of the hustle and bustle. You go 20 minutes and you’re in Mishawaka with good shopping good restaurants.”

DeLano’s approach to sales and support – and his upbeat relations with neighboring homeowners and businesses that welcome newcomers – also help bring customers.

Buyers select from predesigned floor plans with modest modifications as desired, and make a handful of choices about siding, flooring and colors.

“They want it simple,” he says. After the sale, a concierge service can keep the boat gassed up and clean the house when the owners are away.

At Baldwin and other lakes and rivers in Michiana, upscale homes are replacing more primitive cottages and fishing shacks, usually one lot at a time. Baldwin Landing offers a concentrated collection of such construction.

“If they wanted to buy a vacant piece of land – or typically people will buy a home and tear it down – they’ll spend an addition $75,000 to $100,000 to build the quality home we have, and when they’re finished they’ll have to take care of it,” DeLano says.

Some buyers use their homes mostly for weekends and summer vacations. Others are more full-time, although some, like the Mangs, winter in warmer climates.

“We considered making an offer on an existing home on Baldwin Lake last year but we felt there would be too much remodeling costs,” says Paul Gerweis of Bristol. “This year we looked at a few for sale on Baldwin Lake but they were in poor condition for the money.”

Paul and Mary instead chose Baldwin Landing, and their home is under construction. They expect to move next summer.

“At first we were not sure about sharing property with other neighbors, but when we thought about it most lake properties are very close to neighbors anyway and privacy is not too likely,” he says.

“Obviously we liked the idea on no outside maintenance.  We already have a house and grounds to maintain. It has a fire pit, volleyball, docks put in and out, and a pavilion to use.  While our new house was being planned we used the pavilion almost every weekend.”

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