By Alta LeCompte
As the day came to a close, a circle of friends, supporters and future residents surrounded Bob and Karen Pofahl on the site of The Willows courtyard homes at Picacho Mountain for a tailgate toast.
The celebration followed a groundbreaking ceremony for the first of 80 “right sized” patio homes Javier Cabrera of NetSolar Homes will build at The Willows, a gated enclave of resort- style homes on Picacho Mountain.
Among the group were Kim and Tom Kirschbaum, who are relocating to the mountain from Davenport, Iowa. Their journey of nearly 1,300 miles began three years ago when they agreed not to move to Albuquerque, which they decided was “much too big.”
“We were driving around,” Tom Kirschbaum said. “We fell in love with the Organ Mountains. We loved everything about Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley. We went to Mesilla and thought that was wonderful.
“The last night that we were here, we were wandering around Picacho Mountain and a guy in a white pickup flashed his lights and asked if we were all right. It was Bob.”
Pofahl suggested they stay an extra day and take in the mountain sunset.
They stayed — and they decided to return to Las Cruces. Forever.
“Kim is a pastel artist,” Kirschbaum said. “The idea of waking up to these mountains every day for the rest of our life was too good not to do. The back of our lot faces the Organs. If you have that view and two people who love each other, what more do you need?”
Building the dream
The Pofahls’ journey to bring The Willows to market, while short in distance, has been unfolding for more than 10 years.
Recession, water issues and legal complications delayed the launch of the project, Bob Pofahl said.
“We’ve seen the real estate market return,” he said in an earlier interview. “Nationally, people are now able to sell their homes in other areas and make a move now. We’re seeing lots of activity.”
At Picacho Mountain, the wait is ending. Low stone walls already surround each lot at The Willows. The model home/ design center is under construction and work will begin shortly on the Kirschbaums’ home.
Javier Cabrera of Net-Solar Homes will turn the vacant lots into a community of homes, each with patios to catch the view and a courtyard to bring the New Mexico sun inside year-round.
“The main concept,” he said, “is energy efficiency.”
The homes will be equipped with energy efficient air conditioning, water heater, windows and insulation. A solar system is an option.
The homes will be Southwestern in style, but with a lot of variety, Cabrera said.
Ranging from 1,480 to 2,013 square feet, each of the four models can be customized “People who live here will have a beautiful home and an energy efficient home,” Cabrera said.
Each outdoor area is integrated with indoor spaces through wide sliding doors, creating an airy and open feel.
The homes will feature high copper ceilings, custom tile work and the attention to scale and mass characteristic of Southwest style.
The community will feature trails and a 3-acre natural park at the center of The Willows, said project manager Karen Pofahl.
Concierge services for homeowners
The Willows at Picacho Mountain is located within the 800-acre Picacho Mountain Master Planned Community.
Residents will have access to a concierge program to “support them in the everyday tasks of homeownership and the desire to live a healthy, stress-free lifestyle.
It also “satisfies the desire of residents to live in their communities with support through the changing stages of life,” according to www.picachomountain. com. Some of the services offered through the concierge program include:
- Housekeeping and home organization services
- Minor repairs and maintenance
- Annual home inspection
- In-home health and wellness services
- Personal care and fitness services
Willows markets to boomers
Bob Pofahl said he anticipates about 20 to 30 percent of Willows homeowners will be local downsizers from Las Cruces and El Paso, with the remainder — like the Kirshbaums — from all around the country.
He said the homes will have 12- to 16-foot deep patios that “really celebrate the outdoor living that people move to the Southwest to enjoy.”
The target market is age 45 to 70 — people who are not necessarily retiring but “right sizing,” he said. A temporary sales and design office is opening adjacent to the model home under construction at 8149 Willow Bloom Circle.
Staff includes Karen Pofahl and sales directors Billie Haynie and Debbie Garrett of Stull Realty.
For more information about Picacho Mountain, The Willows and the team, visit www.picachomountain.com.