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Parade of Homes kicks off this week.

Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

Parade of Homes, the showcase of new models hosted by Charlotte’s homebuilders, kicks off this weekend and continues on three-day weekends through April 28.

Bill Saint of Classica Homes, parade chairman, ticks off three things that make this edition of the parade special. But I can think of a few more.

First, Saint said, there are neighborhoods that never have been featured on the free, self-guided tour. If you’re in the market for a new house, here’s a nudge to go investigate communities that might not be on your radar.

For instance, Riverwalk down in Rock Hill is on the parade. It’s a mixed-use neighborhood on the Catawba River, on the site of the former Celanese plant. It’s the home of the bicycle velodrome – and worth a drive down on a sunny afternoon.

Brightwalk, in uptown Charlotte, is on the tour, too, and just minutes away.

Second, Saint said, you have more homes to choose from. With 72 houses, this year’s parade is more than 25 percent larger than last year’s. That includes what the builders call “inventory” homes, or those completed and for sale.

Homes are priced from $175,000 to $1.6 million.

Third, the parade website – a big hit last year – has been enhanced. You can search the featured models by price and geography, of course. You click on houses you want to see and devise your own tour.

Interiors always are a big draw, and most of the houses on the tour will be furnished.

Coincidentally, the parade comes just weeks after Charlotte’s top homebuilders were honored with Major Achievement Awards, for everything from architecture to marketing. Eastwood, Mattamy, Classica and Ryland all won gold awards for interiors. To see the top interiors, start there.

Evans Coghill won for Custom Home of the Year. The winning home has been sold and is occupied, but another Evans Coghill model on the same street down in Riverwalk is on the parade.

Parade of Homes is a free, self-guided showcase hosted by the Home Builders Association of Charlotte. Start anywhere, and see the homes and neighborhoods in any order. Pick up a brochure with map at a participating Harris Teeter store, or visit www.paradecharlotte.com.

Homes are open Friday-Sunday through April 28. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 1-6 p.m. Sundays.

Special to the Observer: homeinfo@charter.net
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