Hartford Courant Article – “Property of the Week: Deer Valley Townhomes”

Renting a home certainly has its advantages. Minimizing costs and having others handle maintenance are key reasons. At Deer Valley Townhomes in Ellington, there is also the opportunity to make new friends at hosted events and enjoy amenities like a clubhouse, fitness center and swimming pool. Permanent stays seem more common here than at other rental communities and the waiting list for townhomes is long.

Janice Rife and her husband Chuck moved into a one-bedroom townhome last October and are looking forward to upgrading to a two-bedroom unit once construction on that townhome is completed.

“We’ve always owned our home,” says Rife about their days raising a family. Now, their lifestyle has changed along with their view of what kind of housing they need.

“We didn’t want the aggravation of owning a home,” she says. Her daughter recommended Deer Valley Townhomes and the Rifes were smitten on their first visit.

“We could not believe how beautifully they put these together,” she says about the townhomes. “We immediately decided to move in. It’s the smartest thing we’ve done.”

A scenic walking trail, hardwood floors, crown molding and granite countertops are just a few of the features that Rife highlights. “Everything is very tastefully done,” she says.

When the Rifes went on a recent three-week vacation, they could rest easy knowing that their home was secure and well cared for while they were gone.

“They are so accommodating, the gals that work in the office,” she says. “They went over and watered our plants. They take in UPS packages. If something goes wrong, you call the office and they send someone over within half an hour.”

Rife says that the community is meticulously maintained and notes that the staff was up at the crack of dawn clearing snow all winter long. “My husband said what a good time it was for us to move so we didn’t have to contend with that.”

Rife takes full advantage of all the amenities found at Deer Valley Townhomes. Besides the two-mile walking trail, there is a fitness center, a swimming pool with a lifeguard and a gorgeous clubhouse.

“We went to cocktail party around Christmas,” she says. “They had wonderful hors d’oeuvres and wine. We got to meet a lot of our neighbors.”

Eric Santini, property manager at Deer Valley Townhomes, came up with the idea of a rental community with custom-home features and country club-like amenities back in the late 1980s. When he and his brother, Kevin, completed the adjacent community of custom-designed homes called Gasek Farms, the new project was launched. It was the summer of 2002.

Deer Valley South proved popular. Beautifully landscaped with a clubhouse that includes top-of-the-line equipment in the fitness room, a theater and Irish pub-themed bar area, the community was designed for those whose lifestyle revolves around recreation and socializing instead of mowing lawns and doing home repairs. Construction at Deer Valley North is well underway with 120 units due by mid-2016 and a final 80 units available sometime in the 2017-2018 time frame.

In September, Santini was named the 2014 Builder of the Year by the Home Builders and Remodelers Association (HBRA) of Central Connecticut. Then, in November, Deer Valley North was named the Best Overall Community, Best Rental Community and Best Luxury Rental Unit by the Home Builders and Remodelers Association (HBRA) of Connecticut.

“Ellington really lends itself to building,” says Santini, who also lives in town. “It’s close to everything; Evergreen mall (The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk), golf courses, movie theaters, walking trails. It’s a scenic, kind of relaxed town, but not out in the middle of nowhere.” Santini says that people commute to Springfield and Hartford, and Bradley International Airport is just 20 minutes away.

Designs for all 25 floor plans were done in-house. Units have gas fireplaces and nine-foot ceilings on the first floor along with six-foot windows.

“You want to make it so people are comfortable and want to show off their home,” says Santini.

Uncommon niceties for a rental are a big powder room with wainscoting and a private, attached garage. Epoxy coats the garage floor which helps keep it clean.

“Every unit has a furnace,” says Santini, “You don’t worry about moisture in the full basement and you don’t need outside storage.”

Some units have a first-floor master bedroom suite or a dedicated home office. Two-bedroom units offer a spacious second bedroom with a large bath of its own and one or two walk-in closets. Dark maple cabinets, General Electric appliances and granite countertops grace the kitchen area of an open floor plan. Recessed lighting and a gas fireplace with marble or granite surround and oak mantle create modern ambiance. Homes are wired for high-speed internet access, home network capability, and cable and satellite reception. A monitored security system is optional. Central air conditioning is included and an Energy Star rating on the units helps keeps energy costs low and comfort levels high.

Santini expects a second clubhouse to be completed by May. This facility will have cardio equipment with televisions attached, weight-lifting equipment and a wi-fi center. Outside the clubhouse is a large, level, grassy area for throwing a ball or a Frisbee and there will be an outdoor seating area surrounding a fire pit.

Amy Tedesco, leasing manager at Deer Valley Townhomes, explains why people are attracted to the community.

“There is no one above or below you,” she says. “An attached garage and a basement, those are really important to a lot of people. These are more like homes than apartments. There’s not a common hallway. You drive into your own garage. There’s no worry about being in the parking lot at night or in the rain.”

Deer Valley Townhomes are located at 155 Windermere Avenue in Ellington. The business office is open seven days a week: Mon.-Thurs., 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m. For more information on Deer Valley Townhomes, call 860-875-7200 or visit www.deervalleytownhomes.com.

Deer Valley Townhomes


Year built: 2015

Builder: Santini Homes, Inc.

Price: $1,395 to $2,265 per month

Style: Contemporary

Rooms: 3 to 5

Bedrooms: 1 to 2

Baths: 1.5 to 2.5

Square footage: 1,202 to 2,066 square feet

Acreage: 90 acres

Best feature: Carefree luxury townhomes

Contact: Deer Valley Townhomes, 860-875-7200

Larry Greene is a freelance writer based in Norwich.

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