All photos courtesy of Cinnamon Shore, taken in late September, 2017
Port Aransas on Mustang Island off Corpus Christi is home to Cinnamon Shore, one of the most beautiful coastal real estate developments in Texas. This area was an early scene of disaster after disaster that has happened in recent weeks, each event supplanting news coverage of the prior. We tapped Jeff Lamkin of Sea Oats Group, the project developer, for an update as to current conditions of this luxury vacation home destination.
The bad news is the town of Port Aransas took a beating from Hurricane Harvey — no question. But the good news is these coastal dwellers are tough, the community has come together, critical businesses are reopening, and recovery is underway. Cinnamon Shore itself, situated south of the central area of the town, sustained minimal damage and has repaired what little there was. Read on for details and learn why this season might just be the best time to visit “Port A,” as locals call it:
Six months has gone by fast for me writing about vacation homes for SecondShelters.com. What have we been covering? Beach, lake, ranch, and mountain abodes, among other destinations of interest to North Texans. Year end is a time to look back and reflect. What are the top spots for vacation homes for DFW residents?
Gas up the virtual jet and click to see highlights; we’re taking a tour of some of our favs…
Perhaps you have procrastinated, like I have a tendency to do. Maybe you haven’t decided where to take the family for a fun-filled vacation, and it’s mid June. May I suggest Cinnamon Shore, Mustang Island’s seaside village, located in Port Aransas on Texas’s Coastal Bend? It’s not that far from Big D and offers a whole schedule of summer events planned to make vacationing in paradise even sweeter. Plus who knows: you might like it so much you decide to buy a second home there.
Cinnamon Shore’s Town Center experienced significant growth last year with the addition of Lisabella’s Bistro and Bar, celebrating fine coastal cuisine, and the build-out of a pavilion stage. These additions make possible an entire summer of outdoor entertainment including: live music every Friday and Saturday night, starting at 8 p.m.; “Screen on the Green” movies under the stars on Thursday nights, at dusk; and stargazing on the Great Lawn every other Wednesday night, around 8:30 p.m.
All this, and Summer Kids’ Camp, too! While you’ll enjoy family time with the whole gang during your visit, mom and dad can have some relaxation time while the kids enjoy activities geared just toward them. Camp is offered for kids in pre-K to age 12 and features activities like arts and crafts, treasure hunts, pool time, sand castle building and games on the beach, kids’ yoga on the Great Lawn, make your own ice cream and much more! Starting June 11, camp is offered three days a week, from 1 to 4 p.m., and snacks are included in the daily rate. Talk about setting mom free…
Summer also brings a new Dune Park Pool. Located by the Grand Boulevard, this second community pool serves as one of Cinnamon Shore’s new feature amenities for 2012. (Keira’s pool is already open featuring a saltwater infinity pool, a spacious sunbathing deck, an outdoor community grill, private bathhouses and a fitness room.)
Bookended by an impressive entry pavilion and a convenient shade structure, the Dune Park Pool includes two lounge areas and a full-service bar providing cocktails, frozen drinks and other beverages, as well as a gelato case housing freshly made tasty treats. Surrounded by beautiful landscaping and ample grassy areas, Dune Park Pool is sure to be a new favorite hotspot, where homeowners and visitors can cool down and relax with a dip in the pool, a cold drink from the bar or an icy gelato. In addition, Lisabella’s will serve lunch at the Dune Park Pool, during the summer.
Speaking of Lisabella’s, the restaurant’s casual dining atmosphere makes for the perfect place for a family dinner with the kids. It’s also ideal for a romantic dinner with just the one you love. Add cocktails on the patio, the live music, and “Screen on the Green” movies like old Humphrey Bogart flicks, and you’ve got the perfect date night!
The dirt is really flying at Cinnamon Shore. This summer brings the completion of construction on the second building of Town Center Residences, Three Town Center (3TC). Ideally situated in the heart of Cinnamon Shore, 3TC features two and three-bedroom residences ranging from 1,115 to 1,600 square-feet with prices ranging from $373,000 to $550,000. That’s right, get a beach front condo here for $373,000.
Jeff Lamkin says he flew a plane across the Texas Gulf coast a few years ago, and about five minutes after he landed plunked a couple million dollars down on Texas beachfront dirt. Jeff is the developer of Cinnamon Shore on Mustang Island near Port Aransas, a beach front development done “Seaside-style” in the new Urbanism mode that is giving buyers an upscale taste of living on the Texas coast: it’s as good, if not better, than Florida’s panhandle coast. (Certainly, it’s much closer!) And, according to Jeff, Texas is a great buy. Maybe, in fact, the ONLY buy.
“This is the next hot spot for Beach Property in the United States . Properties have held their value and even appreciated in many instances in this market, despite the national housing issues. Vacation rentals here are up over 20% year over year,” he told me.
Specifically, Lamkin says there’s 12% return for every dollar invested, which means that as appreciation takes place, current owners stand to earn better returns than in other investment opportunities. They also get the benefits of a world-class beachfront community to build their own family memories in. The areas’ three fishing lakes are name after Lamkin’s sons. With no debt on the development, he is the sole owner and says he wants Cinnamon Shore to be around for his kids and grandkids.
Jeff, who was born in Texas but lives in Atlanta, came to Dallas Monday night for a Cinnamon Shore event at The Marquee Grill at the Highland Park Village Theater. It was a serious crowd of about 30 to 40 beach enthusiasts, two of whom are home owners at Cinnamon Shore (and love it), the rest real estate groupies like me who wanted to know more about Texas beach dirt. Several are circling a purchase. One homeowner, Susan Brough of Dallas, owns TWO homes at Cinnamon Shore. Another home-owner who lives in San Antonio but spends a lot of time in Dallas, loves not just his home but his investment: by leasing his Cinnamon Shore home, he made $$26,000 in 2011 — that’s net take home.
Ebby and Mark Cain
Besides potential homebuyers, real estate heavy-hitters were out for the evening, shopping for clients. A crew from Ebby Halliday and Allie Beth Allman was there — Mark Cain, Karen Luter, Maribeth Peters, builder Jogy Koshy— but the biggest surprise of the night was a visit from Dallas real estate grand dame Ebby Halliday, who charmed everyone and told Jeff Lamkin she wanted to visit Cinnamon Shore and wiggle her toes in the sand, just like the feet on the invitation! (Sorry for the “Cinnamon-colored photos — trying out a new camera, but I’m sure the beach was influencing me!)
The folks from Cinnamon Shore are coming to Dallas on Monday, January 30. Email me if you’d like to come & learn more!
One of my favorite vacation home destinations is Cinnamon Shore on Mustang Island in southern Texas, just about an hour south of Corpus Christi, and maybe five miles west of the charming fishing village of Port Aransas. It’s a budding beach community development and poster child for New Urbanism. CS captured my heart when I visited last March. If you’ve ever been to Seaside, Florida, or the St. Joe clone of Watercolor, you will see that Cinnamon Shore is a Seaside clone in Texas. And there is nothing wrong with cloning something that works! Seaside was a planned beachfront community that remains one of the biggest second home real estate and New Urbanism success stories in the U.S. If you’ve ever driven down Route 30A outside of Panama City Beach, you will see a stretch of Gulf shore developed from my hearthrob Alys Beach to Rosemary Beach, Seaside to Watercolor. Cinnamon Shore brings the same flavor, style and quality of construction to the Texas coast.
Here’s what intrigues me, however. The Florida gulf coast is a three hour flight, or a good 12 hour drive. Cinnamon Shore has great accessibility from Dallas via Continental or Southwest Air Lines (from Love Field) in about ONE HOUR, or an eight hour drive by car. That’s do-able in one day.
We visited last March. I found a utopia filled with parks, ponds, and a surprisingly great beach. No sugar white sands like you find on the Florida panhandle, but a very long, broad beach with great waves. And CLEAN! Having summered in Maine almost every year of my married life, I am a total beach snob but Mustang Island beaches are easy on the feet, clean as a whistle and have great surf.
And here’s what you cannot do anywhere else but in Texas: take a golf cart to the beach!
Cinnamon Shore is a 62 acre Master Planned Community. There are others around, not as nice. You drive in off the main drag, Highway 361, on Mustang Island and enter a cloistered paradise of paver sidewalks, beautiful lakes, parks, multiple pools, a pool house, a fitness center, 2 Dune Crossovers accessing the beach and a Town Center (almost complete and again, very similar to Seaside) which will feature shops and restaurants.
Like Seaside and Watercolor, everything is a five minute walk or zippy bike ride. This is a place where you can park your car and never touch your keys the whole time you are visiting. When my children were young, I used to beg for car-free vacations, since my entire middle life was spent chauffeuring children.
Cinnamon Shore is still under construction. Once complete, it will encompass about 200 single family homes and 56 condos. Phase 1 is fully developed with construction under way for homes and amenities. Home-site prices, that is raw land, range from $125,000-$650,000, the less expensive lots further away from the water, the higher prices skirting the dunes. The developer allows a 2 year timeframe in which to begin construction. Prices for completed homes begin at $379,900 to over $1 million for gulf front properties. And I found a 600 square foot, one bedroom condo on the first floor for $206,000! In any other Gulf Front community that would be a fractional!
The developer is the Sea Oats Group, from Atlanta. In this day and age you want to buy from a developer that has kicked a few cans, so to speak, and invested in the community. Sea Oats is an investment private equity fund that has stakes in not just real estate but electronic medical records for physicians as well as second home communities across South Texas, luxury homes in Atlanta and vacation homes in Cabo San Lucas.
Last July, CS christened Lisabella’s, a Port Aransas fixture since 2005. The restaurant moved from its former home in the city of Port A right to Cinnamon Shore to bring homeowners and visitors fresh Gulf seafood. Owned by Kris and Lisa Amundsen, Lisabella’s is a casual dining establishment that serves fine coastal cuisine for three meals a day plus daily gourmet coffees and fresh pastries and desserts baked by an in-house pastry chef. The restaurant also features the C Bar offering microbrewery beer, an extensive wine list and super premium liquor.
Lisabella’s will have it all and make it quite possible to never leave your perfect beachfront community. But if you don’t have stranger danger, Port Aransas is a mere 3 miles away. Try Coffee Waves Port Aransas, where we grabbed breakfast during our stay. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of restaurants both in Port A (as the locals call it) including the Venetian Hot Plate, one of the best Italian meals I recall, fish places and new fusion place closer to Corpus that was owned by a darling young couple with excellent food. We also loved the prices: if you’ve been to Carmel, Calistoga or Hawaii, you will get great meals in this area for what you pay for a California latte. LisaBellas, for example, right on property, offers a boxed lunch including a sandwich, chips, pastry and drink for approximately $8—great for a picnic on the beach or to accompany a game of golf on the neighboring Newport Dunes Links course.
I found a home at Cinnamon Shore that made me consider selling my Dallas home and moving there FULL TIME: 4,000 square ft with five bedrooms, a bunk room, five and a half baths and two master suites — so two couples could share ownership and even be there at the same time. The interiors are spectacular by Mustang Island designer interior Susan Castor. Oh. My. God. Shiplap siding, tongue and groove all whitewashed or painted white; white oak plank hardwood floors; what they call “morning kitchens” and I call “beverage bars” in both masters — ha maybe that’s a phrase Southern Baptists prefer! There is an elevator and two laundry rooms, and scads of outdoor porches to catch the Gulf sea breeze where folks never shut the windows so they can hear the surf. And hear the surf you will from this property because it overlooks the dunes with a view full of the beach from every single room. Really, $2.2 million for a giant, brand spanking new beachfront house? SOLD!
But here’s what’s so great about Cinnamon Shore: you can also have a great house for $400,000. Pricing is so reasonable, and many homeowners here tell me they not only cover cash flow they actually MAKE money when they put their home in the rental pool. I know it’s a popular spot come spring and summer: we tried getting down there for three or four weekends — Cinnamon Shore was PACKED!
Got your attention now, huh? I kid you not when I tell you how very affordable the homes at Cinnamon Shore are! Look at this darling 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo a short walk from the beach and right in the action of the new Town Center. Only 605 square feet but really, who needs more? (Plus with a condo you avoid all the maintenance of a home.) The finish out is pure beach house charm with the soft water color palette, beadboard walls and granite counters in the kitchen. Pop a comfy sofa bed in the living room and you have plenty of room. When we were in Port A as they call it, we wanted to eat out every night because the food is fantastic! This unit is on the first floor. Honestly, for $205,900 you don’t have to be in the “One percent” to own a second home at the beach! This one would be a great getaway for us alone or with the kids — or a nice gift to let them use it as a getaway. On the first floor.
Let’s face it: if you had to pick the most suffering, beat-up child in this real estate mess, it would be the second home market. This is probably the worst time ever for the second home market because most areas overbuilt during the boom, priced too high, and are now left with inventory. Getting a mortgage on a first home is hard enough, and investors are now limited to 7 mortgages including your homestead under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines.
Now if you have cash on hand, that’s another story and you will command great pricing. Except, of course, in Aspen. AOL RealEstate called on ERA Real Estate to create a list of five lesser-known vacation hot spots where you can still get a good buy in a first rate location. It may not be Aspen or Pebble Beach but if your checkbook is not a bottomless pit, here’s where you should bebuying: Boseman, MT; Cape Cod, Mass; Lake Erie; Siesta Key, Fla; Virginia Beach, Va.. I will add that I would buy in a heartbeat (and have friends who have bought) a well-priced home in Port Aransas, Texas; anything in the Fort Walton/Panama City area like Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach, Watercolor and Seaside, though Seaside is getting a little worn; the Carolinas are on fire; southern coast of Maine; Lake Tahoe Martis Camp; the Texas Hill Country and Coeur D’Alene, Idaho where the house bargains are too good to be true. And I cannot rave about Bozeman enough. Or the plethora of high end fractionals out there. Check out the slide show, and I’ll be posting homes from all these areas.
Where would you buy a second home if you were in the market?