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All-sprinkler development to break ground

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SHALLOTTE—Energy-efficient, structurally sound houses with installed sprinkler systems are the homes of the future, and local developer Brian Griffin wants to bring a community with those features to Brunswick County.

Griffin’s Wisteria Place will be a cottage/Craftsman style community off Village Point Road in Shallotte. His company will break ground on the new development Nov. 1.

One major difference between this planned community and others in Brunswick County is all houses will come with sprinklers installed.

Griffin said he made the decision after meeting with Shallotte Fire Marshal Andy Thompson and Fire Chief Paul Dunwell about fire safety requirements for the development.

They informed him to meet the town’s regulations, instead of having two driveways, the new community could have sprinklers installed in all the houses. Griffin agreed the safety factor would be a draw for potential buyers.

“Working with the fire marshal and fire chief, I realized the sprinklers would be a better alternative and a good feature for the homeowners.”

In 2006 every 76 seconds a residential fire occurred in the United States which accounted for an estimated 2,620 civilian fire deaths and 12,925 civilian injuries as a result of residential fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“I think this is an excellent proactive approach to fire protection that will result in life safety and property conservation.” Thompson said recently, noting the Wisteria Place community will not only reduce the extent of fire damage but will also increase the homes’ values.

And, as it turns out, Griffin is slightly ahead of the times. The International Code Council last month approved requiring all new houses to be equipped with sprinklers by 2011.

Wisteria Place will be an 89-unit development, with homes ranging from 1,600 square feet to slightly less than 2,300 square feet. Griffin says his plan is to create a “front-porch” community with a playground, clubhouse, dog park, walking trails and other amenities for families and retirees.

“The point is to have all the security and amenities of a gated community at more reasonable prices and with a more old-fashioned neighborhood atmosphere,” Griffin said.

And he learned about Brunswick County’s gated communities from the ground up.

Griffin is the grandson of the late Paul Dennis, one of the original partners in Sea Trail Plantation.

“My grandfather was a pioneer,” Griffin said. “He was driving the train for golf course communities.”

Griffin began working with his grandfather when he was 15, learning the business from him. Griffin left Sea Trail after 22 years when he had an idea for filling a need in Brunswick County development.

“We have a gap,” he said. “We have affordable homes for working-class people, up to $200,000, and then it jumps to $400,000 in the golf course communities.

Prices for homes in Wisteria range from $220,000 to $310,000.

“I wanted to fill the gap for blue-collar retirees and local professionals. This community will have the same amenities as Ocean Ridge and St. James,” he said.

Griffin started Brian Griffin Enterprises and Wisteria Place Development Co. and began working with John Urban, a land planner, architect and general contractor to create an Energy Star qualified neighborhood.

“I wanted to do something different,” he said. “I knew the wave of the future is eco-friendly development.”

Energy Star qualified homes must meet rigorous energy efficiency guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency, making them 20-30 percent more efficient than standard homes.

To meet the standards, a third party inspector must check for effective insulation, advanced techniques for sealing heating and air conditioning ducts, efficient heating and cooling equipment, high-performance, energy efficient windows and efficient fixtures, bulbs and appliances.

For more information on Wisteria Place, visit www.wisteriaplacenc.com.