Project Profile: Pitell Homes at Meadow Ridge

Forward Township is perhaps Butler County’s best kept secret, but with new housing developments in the works, it is not going to stay under the radar for much longer.

One of those developments is Meadow Ridge, with the first homes having been built in 2004. Currently, Pitell Homes, a 35-year-old, award-winning, semi-custom home building company headquartered in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, is in the process of building a new street within Meadow Ridge, with the goal of completion in 2025. When it is done, Meadow Ridge will feature a total of 107 homes, from all four phases of development 

Up until recently, Pitell Homes built homes on finished lots but, as a small builder, found it harder to compete with the larger construction companies to find finished lots. To that end, the company recently started to develop its own neighborhoods, buying raw land and creating whole developments. “Scarcity of land in the market was a primary driver; there were not a lot of available lots, especially for a smaller builder like ourselves to compete,” said Shaun Seydor, president of Pitell Homes. “It was hard to find flat land for neighborhood development with reasonable topography. We decided to make a conscious effort to seek out and acquire pieces of ground,” he said.

The Meadow Ridge project is situated perfectly within Pitell’s wheelhouse. Pitell Homes had already developed and completed Ross Park Trails in Ross Township; Hidden Grove in O’Hara; and Liberty Point in Saxonburg. They had also built for years in Leslie Farms, a neighboring community to Meadow Ridge, so they were quite familiar with the market in that area, and Meadow Ridge was particularly appealing.

“A couple of things jumped out. It’s just outside Evans City in Forward Township but within Seneca Valley School District, so right on the edge of it. It’s a desirable school district for the single-family home buyer; school district matters in real estate. That drives our acquisition of the property and our ability to resell the lots once it’s developed,” said Seydor.

Forward Township:
A Desirable Location

Though it traditionally has been a rural community, with farmers still living and working there, Forward Township is on the cusp of a growth spurt. Situated along the banks of the Connoquenessing Creek, the township is nestled between Cranberry, Jackson and Butler, all areas that have been experiencing a surge in residential developments. “We are in the bullseye of the major growth area,” said Mark Wilson, chairman of Forward Township’s board of supervisors. “We have been isolated from that but are now starting to see residential growth. Meadow Ridge was one of the first residential developments some years ago, and now they are on their last phase, Phase 4, which is being developed by Pitell Homes. We are very happy with them; they have been a very good partner, and they have done a good job,” he said.

Though still a bedroom community, Forward Township’s growth is undeniable: the population increased from 2,565 to 3,164 residents between the 2010 and the 2020 census, and Wilson predicts a much higher population by the next census. 

And while Forward Township is not built up with amenities, such as retail and restaurants, Seydor said that, uniquely, the township is positioned halfway between Butler and Cranberry, so residents get to live outside the hustle and bustle of those communities in a country setting but with very convenient access to shopping and entertainment.

In addition, it is close to the charming smaller towns of Mars and Zelienople.

The bonus is that Interstate 79 is convenient, whether a resident works in Butler, Cranberry or even the City of Pittsburgh. In addition to I79, U.S. Route 68 is a major east-west route, along with Mars-Evans City Road, which is becoming a major state road, Wilson pointed out. “Because of the location of the township, lower taxes, and the open ground, we’ve now become a focal point for future developments, mostly residential and commercial as well,” he said.

The township completed a comprehensive plan about a year ago. “We will try to retain the rural, bucolic nature of the town as much as possible but we have to realize more people will come and live here,” Wilson said, adding that people appreciate the inviting atmosphere of this friendly township, which also maintains a nice township park with walking trails and a canoe launch on Connoquenessing Creek.

The Pitell Touch

The 35-year-old company’s two primary products are single-family homes and quad patio homes.

“We are a semi-custom home building company, so we build our floor plans. We have a library of floor plans on our website, but customers can customize those to suit their needs. They also have a full range of design choices for kitchens and bathrooms,” said Seydor.

Seydor added, “We give customers a lot of choices, but we only build our own plans; we don’t hire an architect and designer and build from scratch. This way, we can control the cost and the vendors. Our company is positioned to provide the best value on the market, and most importantly, this value to the customers.”

The company is unique in the market because they are the only home builder that also owns a concrete poured wall company, enabling them to pour their own foundations. “We vertically integrate construction, which provides significant value to our customer,” said Seydor.

Standard features in any Pitell home are numerous, from name brand appliances and fixtures to cultured marble counters and sinks and ceramic tile flooring in all baths to luxury vinyl plank flooring. In Meadow Ridge, the builders added a new smart thermostat feature: Google Nest.

Although there is a menu of customized options, Pitell will also entertain most custom option requests, such as a finished basement or a request to move walls around or to make bedrooms bigger or smaller or a car charger in the garage.

The Pittsburgh Business Times recently ranked Pitell Homes
the #10 builder in the
Pittsburgh market.

Meadow Ridge’s New Product

Pitell is coming in as the fourth and final phase of Meadow Ridge. “Our section stands alone; we are just connecting to an existing infrastructure. It was like putting puzzle pieces together. But our street is a standalone,” he said.

Pitell’s contribution to Meadow Ridge will be an additional 25 houses ranging in price from $389,900 to $489,900. The lots range from ¼ to ½ acre.  “It’s a private enclave within the community: it’s a private cul de sac, and most of the lots back to the woods. It is within the neighborhood and walkable but it is pretty private and quainter and more tranquil than the rest of the community,” said Seydor.

The two products that Pitell is building at Meadow Ridge will appeal to two different demographics of buyers.

“The two products at Meadow Ridge will be traditional, two-story single-family homes, designed for families or first-time buyers or move-up home buyers. The courtyard homes are slab-on-grade, so there is no basement; it is designed for empty nesters or move down buyers,” said Seydor.

Seydor said that his company developed the courtyard style home specifically for Meadow Ridge. This new series of homes was borne out of the quad patio homes, which has been a successful product for them.

“We’ve seen a significant need in the market of empty nesters or move-down buyers for them to have a low maintenance home, all one level, and there were not a lot in the market. When we had the opportunity, we decided to develop a new product,” said Seydor.

To that end, Pitell developed single-level courtyard homes with four different floor plans in different sizes. The floorplans, named Abigail, Bella, Caroline, or Diana, range from the high $200s to the high $300s. Square footage varies from the upper 1,400s to the low 2,000s. Depending on the floor plan selected, buyers can opt for either a 2BR, 2BA, up to a 3BR, 3BA, and all have two-car garages. The largest even has a second-floor option as well as an option to add a fourth bedroom and fourth bath.

He calls the courtyard homes a hybrid between a quad and a single-family home. “It’s essentially a detached version of the quad unit but it serves the need when there’s not a quad community in the available area. It’s a low maintenance product built at great value and it allows that segment of the market to have an option for new construction,” he said.

“All the floorplans feature a large outdoor patio that can be converted into a screened-in porch. It integrates interior and exterior living. So far, we’ve sold at least one of each of the floorplans. We’re really excited to introduce this and include them in future communities,” added Seydor.

Meadow Ridge’s model home, which will be open this spring, is an example of the new courtyard style home. The interior was designed by Jody Papay Siska, owner of JP Designs, who has worked on other model homes for Pitell before. The model home is a three-bedroom, open floor concept, with a dining room in front and a screened-in porch out back. She designed the home with the move-down buyer/empty nester demographic in mind. “They do build a beautiful home,” said Siska. “I can see myself living in this house.”

Traditional Family Homes

The other houses in Meadow Ridge will be their ‘tried and true” traditional two-story homes, which range from 1,900-2,350 square feet, which Seydor said is the same product that they built in other communities like Ross Park Trails. And like the new courtyard homes, Pitell will offer four floor plans: Jenna, Kelly, Shelby and Natalie.

Mark Thousand and his wife were the first buyers to purchase a lot in the new section of the Meadow Ridge development and are currently working with Pitell to complete their dream home. The Thousands currently live in Cranberry; they love the area but wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban sprawl while at the same time being in a more rural location that is close to everything that Cranberry has to offer. “It’s a happy medium of both; that was one of the biggest appeals,” he said.

It was also important for Thousand, who is building a single-family, four-bedroom home on a .3-acre lot, to stay in the Seneca Valley School District. “The biggest thing with Meadow Ridge that we liked was their lot sizes compared to other builders around the area,” he said.

As of this writing, Thousand is roughly two months away from moving in to his Shelby home, which he was able to customize by extending the garage to accommodate his full-sized truck. “We also added a morning room to it on the back side of the house, which made the square footage bigger. The floor plan fit exactly what we wanted,” he said.

Overall, he said it has been a really good experience and knew that, after interviewing other builders, he wanted to work with Pitell, especially after seeing friends’ homes who have built with the company.

Thousand said that the people he worked with at Pitell were straightforward about costs, did not try to upsell them on anything, and thus far, they have made the process seamless. “The way that Pitell works is once you sign paperwork to build a house, they just go.” He said he appreciated being kept in the loop about the progress.

Also, as Thousand is in the HVAC business and has a construction background, he recognizes high-quality work. He and his family are looking forward to moving in, as this is something that they have wanted for more than three years. “Finally, we will be getting our dream home. Everything is pointing in the right direction,” he said.

What will make Meadow Ridge stand out, said Seydor, is that it will be a ‘mixed’ neighborhood. “You will have different potential generations or different types of folks coming together on the same street, which is unique. It’s a big enough cul de sac and a nice neighborhood to be integrated into. A private street of our customers that will be part of a greater community with a mix of different builders. I think it will be a unique melting pot,” he said.  NH