PHOENIX, AZ – Suncrest, a leading residential master-developer, is making waves in Charlotte and Phoenix with recent grand openings of two exceptional, luxury rental home communities – the first in their planned national portfolio of Zora Living communities.

Zora University celebrated their Grand Opening May 25, and offers a selection of 108 one- and two-bedroom, craftsman-style homes, each featuring smart home technology, private entrance, and individually fenced and landscaped backyards.

The community, conveniently located near major employment hubs, includes an array of amenities, including a sparkling resort-inspired pool, outdoor grilling stations, fitness facility, yoga lawn, and open-air courtyards.

Sean Cooney, Suncrest Managing Partner, expressed his excitement: “Zora University redefines modern living, offering a unique blend of privacy through our single-family homes and convenience through exceptional management services. We are thrilled to bring this highly anticipated rental opportunity to residents in the Charlotte metro area.”

Zora Encanto celebrated their Grand Opening on April 13, and sets a new standard for sustainability and superior living. Located near major employment hubs, the 109 luxury, ranch-style, rental homes offer an impressive list of features including private entrances, private turf backyards, smart home technology, doggy doors, and more.

Beyond these amenities, Zora Encanto showcases its commitment to sustainability, utilizing HercuWall® technology, an innovative, panelized exterior and demising wall system offering superior strength, insulation, and efficiency compared to traditional construction methods.

Jason Rhees, HercuTech CEO, emphasized the benefits: “The HercuWall system absolutely differentiates Zora Encanto from competing products and highlights Suncrest’s commitment to building better and focusing on residents’ experience and well-being.”

Employing HercuWall will save over 35,000 kilograms of carbon emissions annually, reduce residents’ energy bills by over $15,000 annually, and save 600+ trees in the community construction.

Mike Koch, Suncrest Managing Partner, expressed excitement about the HercuTech partnership: “We are extremely proud to offer our residents a higher level of privacy, soundproofing, significant energy bill savings, and other benefits that HercuWall offers.”

Derek oversees land acquisition, design, entitlement & site development activities in Middle Tennessee & N. Alabama. Prior to Suncrest, he was Land Forward Planning & Entitlement Manager for a top national builder in Nashville, guiding the company’s strategic direction.

Responsibilities Include:
Land Acquisition & Analysis: Collaborates with the team to assess land deals & apply strategic frameworks
Project Development: Develops scopes & budgets and guides projects through due diligence with knowledge of local markets and zoning laws
Financial Planning: Forecasts development costs using recent bids
Project Management: Tracks deadlines & budgets to ensure project progress
Reporting and Communication: Develops reports highlighting deadlines & challenges, maintaining transparency
Vendor Management: Manages A/P for timely vendor compensation & develops consultant agreements

Derek holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Mississippi State & is a licensed Professional Engineer in TN and MS.

Arizona-based real estate firm Suncrest has been active in Gaston County in recent years. Now, it is gearing up to soon begin development at another master-planned community there.

Suncrest is targeting a spring 2024 construction start on the first phase of Derry, a 360-acre community approved for the development of 877 single-family residences. The first phase has been approved to include 195 home lots with a range of product types, Suncrest said.

The project site is on Forbes Road in Gastonia, near Neal Hawkins Drive.

The developer, which focuses on master-planned communities, is still in discussions with homebuilders that are interested in building product at Derry.

Suncrest estimates that 10 to 12 months of site work is needed at Derry before construction of homes begins.

Gaston County has been a focus for Suncrest since the firm entered the Charlotte region in 2019. Derry joins another Suncrest project there named Nolen Farm, which includes hundreds of residences as well.

Suncrest’s Mark McAuley told the Charlotte Business Journal earlier this year that Gaston County would continue to be on the firm’s radar for future projects.

Since 2019, Suncrest has acquired over 1,200 acres in the Charlotte region and secured entitlement for the development of more than 3,000 home lots. Suncrest is planning for 2,000 additional home lots in the region to be ready for development in the next 18 to 36 months.

The firm works with a range of homebuilders to develop its communities and has other projects in KannapolisIndian Land and Charlotte.

Jonathan’s Grille is staying in growth mode, on the heels of its tenth location opening in Gallatin this fall.

Local brothers Curt and Mason Revelette have plans for the six new locations of the Nashville-favorite upscale sports bar across Tennessee and its neighboring states.

“What I’m most excited about is the ability to continue to promote from within and thank our long-term team members that have put in those long nights that the bar and restaurant industry demand and [for them] to be able to have a true career and be able to move up within our company,” Mason Revelette told the Business Journal. “We’re just really excited that we are going to be able to grow at a nice consistent pace without losing our culture and our family environment.”

The six new locations will be:

  • Lebanon, Barton Village Development, South Hartman Road
  • Chattanooga, 212 Market St.
  • Jackson, Exit 85 area
  • Clarksville, Marcelina Development
  • Smyrna, Same Ridley Parkway
  • Huntsville, Alabama

The first three listed will break ground in 2024 and the Revelette’s hope that two of them will also open next year. The last three will start to break ground in 2025.

These opportunities are similar to the communities Jonathan’s Grille already operates in.

“They really match the same model of being upscale suburban communities with young families and hotels and day business, and so for us, it just checked a lot of the same boxes that we are looking for,” Curt Reveletter said in an interview. “We just felt like we really understand these communities.”

Other areas on the Revelette’s radar for expansion are Knoxville, Birmingham and Bowling Green.

The Knoxville/East Tennessee area has the ability to support two, if not three, locations, according to the restaurateurs, and the Bowling Green area is attractive because western Kentucky University gives in-state tuition to Middle Tennessee students so the brand is familiar in the market.

Each new location will create about 70 jobs.

“Now that we’re starting to scale a little bit, we are getting some good economies of scale with our vendors and being able to pay our people even a little bit better as our economies of scale increase and some of our costs start to really work in our favor,” Mason Revelette said.

When the brothers tool over Jonathan’s Grille, founded by their parents in 1999, in 2010, there were only two locations: Cool Springs and Bellevue. It has since expanded to Spring Hill; Hendersonville; Germantown; Mt. Juliet; Madison, Alabama; Murfreesboro; Chattanooga and Gallatin.

“You can get a cold beer anywhere, but it’s the people and the atmosphere that make them want to come back. We really try to have higher food quality, a cleaner restaurant, and a really engaged staff that cares about guests,” Mason Revelette said. “A lot of the people that work for us grew up in that area and they’re proud to now be in the newest, coolest place where they grew up. It’s really creating an environment that makes people want to come back day after day.”

Aside from Jonathan’s Grille, the Revelette’s portfolio also includes The Rutledge, located in Franklin and in downtown Music City adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel Nashville. The brothers have also broken into the beverage space, launching Revelette Wines and Revelette Bourbon.

The planned Howe’s Landing community will represent Suncrest’s third Charlotte-area master-planned community.

Residential master developer Suncrest Real Estate & Land and TriGate Capital, a leading real estate investment manager, have acquired 335 acres in Gastonia, North Carolina. The multi-parcel assembly, known as Howe’s Landing, was approved by the Gastonia City Council for 877 residential homesites. Howe’s Landing will represent Suncrest’s third Charlotte-area master-planned community.

“The concept and design of Howe’s Landing is the result of a shared vision between Suncrest [and] Gastonia planning staff, with feedback from the community,” Suncrest managing partner Sean Cooney says. “It will raise the bar for residential development in the area.”

According to Suncrest, the new community will provide home builders and residents with diverse housing options that include townhomes and single-family residences in a variety of styles, sizes, and price points. Howe’s Landing will feature passive and active open space and an 8-acre stocked pond that will serve as the focal point of the community.

The plans for the community’s central amenity include a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse with an indoor fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool, multipurpose sports courts, grilling areas, and gathering facilities.

The south side of the South Hartmann interchange off Interstate 40 exit in Lebanon is about to change.

A groundbreaking event was held this week for a massive mixed-use project named Barton Village, which will ultimately add almost 2,000 homes and 350,000 square feet of retail, commercial, and office space to about 350 acres about a half-mile off I-40.

Lebanon Mayor Rick Bell believes Barton Village has the potential to bring sit-down restaurants and new retail options for residents as well as consumers who live outside the city.

Barton Village’s developers are paying for sewer upgrades, according to Bell, who described the project as a public-private partnership.

“This investment is not just in this property, but it’s in the entire area and the infrastructure (is) not only to support this development, but other developments that will come out here,” Bell said Tuesday.

Phase 1 includes 100 single-family homes that should be open for sales in early 2025, according to developer Mike Koch, managing partner of Suncrest. PulteGroup is the home builder. About 740 single-family homes with 1,200 additional residential units that will include a variety of multifamily units and townhomes are planned for the project.

Initial work will also include Barton Village Boulevard, which should be completed and open for vehicle traffic by September 2024, Koch said. Barton Village Boulevard will be the gateway into Barton Village with plans to include a proposed roundabout at Barton Creek Road that will open up to the single-family portion of the community. 

Barton Village can provide “walkable living and (a) commercial aspect that the city has been lacking,” Lebanon Councilmember Camille Burdine said in support of the project.

About two miles of multi-purpose walking paths and more than 60 acres of open space are planned as part of the 350-acre site.

There are contracts with “a couple of commercial end-users, including a local restaurant group,” Koch said, though no specific brands have yet been named.

The mixed-use portion of the development north of Bartons Creek Road is a specific plan zoning district approved in 2021 and amended in 2022, according to the Lebanon Planning Department. South of Bartons Creek Road is the single-family portion of the development that had a preliminary plan approved in 2021 and was expanded and revised earlier this year.

Arizona-based real estate firm Suncrest entered the Charlotte market in 2019 looking to establish a foothold with its master-planned residential and mixed-use communities. In the years since, the company hired a director of land development in the Carolinas and is looking to continue expanding throughout the region.

Mark McAuley joined Suncrest last year after previously spending 15 years with ColeJenest & Stone. He is leading an ambitious plan for Suncrest, which has acquired around 1,200 acres in the region and entitled about 3,000 residential lots since 2019. McAuley and his team are working on getting approvals for an additional 2,000 home lots across several projects at various stages of the planning process.

Suncrest’s portfolio includes master-planned projects such as Nolen Farm in Gastonia, Sugar Creek in Indian Land and Bakers Creek in Kannapolis. It is also working to add multiple large projects elsewhere in Gaston County. Suncrest is behind the Zora build-to-rent product line as well, which includes a project near University City with 108 homes. McAuley said his team is evaluating options throughout the region for future projects, including in counties surrounding Mecklenburg.

Suncrest works with homebuilders to develop its land holdings. It has worked with companies like D.R. Horton Inc., Lennar Corp., Meritage Homes Corp. and Taylor Morrison up to this point. For several of its projects, multiple builders are involved and developing different product types.

“We really have a big emphasis on amenitizing communities and creating a community with a wide range of amenities,” McAuley said. “(Homebuilders have) been really eager and aggressive to get into our communities because we focus on well-planned communities with amenities.”

McAuley spoke with the Charlotte Business Journal about Suncrest’s portfolio in the region and its plans for more growth. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How has your vision for the Charlotte market evolved since entering here in 2019? How has the market stacked up to your expectations?

I think it has been in line with what we’ve expected. We’ve been able to be a little more aggressive because we’ve developed a lot more relationships with the builders here. I think we’ve been able to prove on these projects like Nolen Farm and Sugar Creek, which is … under construction, that we can deliver on what we’ve set out to do as far as some of these large, residential, master-planned communities. I think we’ve even gotten more aggressive in being able to find the right projects in the right locations. Because of our relationships we’ve developed with these builders — local, regional and national builders — we’ve been even more aggressive.

Every site now has its challenges, between infrastructure, entitlement, timelines and zoning. I think we’re willing to take on some of those challenges that some others aren’t. Since we entered the market, I’d say we’re going after more and more things here in Charlotte. It has probably exceeded our expectations.

You mentioned some of the markets you’ve been successful in so far, like Gaston County. Are there any other areas in the region you are particularly intrigued by? And what are you looking for in these areas when deciding where to invest?

We love the Gaston County area. We see that area continuing to grow, and I think they’ve been good partners in working through some of these projects and opening where they see development happening. We’ve looked at other submarkets. We have a project in Kannapolis. We like that area as well. We’re looking at a couple of other things, but obviously, there is a little bit of a challenge with sewer capacity and things like that. We like these other areas. We’ve looked at things even further out in Troutman and Hickory. We don’t have anything going there yet, but we see a lot of growth that way. Lincoln County as well. Union as well. Sewer has still been a bit of challenge in Union County at the moment. Lancaster, we’ve done work there and we continue to look at sites there that seem to make sense to us. 

I think those surrounding counties, we’re always looking for projects that make sense and, even if there are some infrastructure challenges, we’re willing to work through those.

What about the Suncrest model fits this area well?

For us, as a master-planned developer, it’s working with our builders on what they see as far as the amenities, which are the big thing for us. And how quickly can we develop lots. For us, the model that has helped a lot is having early conversations with builders that we think may fit into a certain site. What does (the builder) envision here?

Those are always changing. Every project now has an Olympic-sized pool, a 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot clubhouse, multiple playgrounds and parks and pickleball courts. And a lot of them also have a mixed-use component, where you’re really creating a community that is going to be desirable for a variety of people from young professionals all the way up to their grandparents, all moving into the same community and having that desirable proximity to shopping and entertainment. That has been really important for us, meeting with builders early on to ask what they see for projects. 

And with local stakeholders, having their buy in. I think that has really helped us, listening to them and hearing what they envision for the community. What is the history? How can we factor in some of this history and culture into how we develop a project? I think that has been really helpful in creating a lot of successful projects for us.

Phoenix-based Suncrest, which has developed 24 master-planned communities on 4,100 acres since 2016, has entered the wildly popular build-to-rent sector.

A newly created Zora Living brand is being unveiled at its first build-to-rent community in Phoenix.

Called Zora Encanto, the $33 million development will include 109 single-family rental homes on 10 acres at the southeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Encanto Boulevard in west Phoenix.

“We’re just getting started,” said Mike Koch, managing partner who co-founded Suncrest with Sean Cooney. “We’re looking forward to growing that component of the business.”

While Suncrest has sold engineered lots to builders for two other rental communities in Buckeye and Maricopa, it has been focusing build-to-rent development in the Carolinas and Texas, Koch said.

While the company is getting into the BTR sector, 85% of its business is still in the development of master-planned communities that feature for-sale homes.

“We are in the land business,” Koch said. “Build-for-rent is another application for land. With the housing shortage across the country, there’s a need for both for-sale and for-rent. We’re trying to fill the void for both.”

Koch said he’s looking at building rental divisions with Suncrest’s existing master-planned communities in Nashville and Charlotte. He’s also planning one in Tennessee.

“We’re looking for land opportunities for master-plan opportunities in Phoenix for sure,” Koch said.

He said he’s negotiating contracts for two parcels in Phoenix that are within Loop 101. If all goes as planned, he would have two more rental communities built by the end of 2025.

Meanwhile, the Zora Encanto community is in pre-leasing, with monthly rents averaging $1,950 for one- and two-bedroom homes.

Amenities include what Koch calls a “resort-inspired pool,” a small cabana, a fitness center that includes a sliding garage door to a yoga lawn and open space for gathering areas.

Each of the homes will include 10-foot ceilings, smart home technology, stainless steel appliances, higher-end finishes, open concept kitchens with pantries and doggie doors leading to large, private turf backyards.

On average, the back yards at Zora Encanto are roughly 600 square feet, which Koch said is twice the size of other rental communities.

“Some of our biggest backyards are 1,200 to 1,500 square feet,” Koch said.

The private backyards include turf, plantings, pavers and are surrounded by white vinyl privacy fencing.

“Phoenix is ground zero for standalone rental communities,” Koch said. “We learned from the best — Christopher Todd Communities and NextMetro. There are a lot of good groups doing a lot of good things. We focused on land closer in town within a mile of major transportation routes and major employment. We wanted to focus on the outdoor experience. The big backyards were something we wanted to market as a little bit different than most.”

Mike Mancini, president of Sodella Construction, is building Zora Encanto using HercuTech’s HercuWall technology.

Using HercuWall to build these homes can help residents lower their energy bills by up to 40%, Koch said.

“Our plan for all the communities we build in Phoenix is to use HercuWall,” he said.

Mecklenburg County’s most active homebuilder has secured a large swath of land for a new project in Kannapolis.

Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) plans to build homes and townhomes on a 106-acre site that’s less than 2 miles from the N.C. Research Campus. The Kannapolis City Council approved a development agreement last year with Suncrest to allow for significant residential development there.

The site was previously owned by Arizona-based Suncrest, which acquires land and works with homebuilders to develop it. Suncrest previously secured approvals to allow for hundreds of homes and townhomes to be developed at the site, known as Bakers Creek. It is south of West 21st Street near downtown Kannapolis and is approved for 207 single-family homes and 134 townhomes.

An entity named DRP NC 4 LLC, which is affiliated with asset manager DW Partners, acquired a 99-acre site from Suncrest for over $8.6 million earlier this month, real estate records show. DW Partners is working with Lennar, Suncrest confirmed. The remaining 7 acres will be owned by a homeowner association, Suncrest added.

Suncrest has announced that model homes will be ready at the property in early 2026. Prices for the townhomes are expected to start in the low $300,000s, while the single-family homes would start in the mid-$300,000s.

“Kannapolis is a strategic market for Lennar given its commitment to growth and development of the town’s commercial core,” said Matt Pannell, Lennar vice president of land acquisition, in a news release.

Kannapolis’ downtown revitalization effort, which is centered around Atrium Health Ballpark, has drawn hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in recent years. The N.C. Research Campus is expected to get a new influx of interest as well, after Charlotte-based Insite Properties struck a deal last year to acquire Castle & Cooke’s land holdings in the city.

Pannell said the momentum in Kannapolis “will be a huge attraction to businesses and homebuyers alike.”

Lennar came in at No. 1 on the Charlotte Business Journal‘s most recent list ranking Mecklenburg County’s largest single-family homebuilders by number of permits pulled in 2022. Suncrest is active in the Charlotte region also with a significant footprint in Gaston County, among other locations here.

A mixed-use development plan that includes 346 homes and approximately 30,000 square feet of commercial space near Lebanon High School was approved Tuesday by the city council.

Blue Hickory is the name of the mixed-use development that will be developed by Suncrest. The council approved Blue Hickory unanimously on second reading. Council member Chris Crowell motioned for the approval and Joey Carmack gave a second.

The 44-acre site is approved for 29 single-family homes, 317 townhomes and the commercial space according to Suncrest, marking the latest new development in the growing Nashville suburb.

No commercial users are under contract, “but there is significant interest from all the residential builders and a couple of restaurants and coffee-type shops,” said Suncrest Managing Partner Mike Koch.

Development on the site where South Hartmann intersects with Hickory Ridge Road is expected to begin in the spring of 2024 with new homes available in early 2025, according to Suncrest.

The development will be connected by a network of multipurpose pathways and sidewalks.

Blue Hickory will be the eighth residential community planned by Suncrest in the greater Nashville area, and will be the third in Lebanon joining Woodbridge Glen, located off Hwy 109 and I-40 and Barton Village, on South Hartmann Drive just south of I-40.

Since 2017, Suncrest has acquired more than 2,000 acres of land in Middle Tennessee municipalities.