Protested Christmas Market Gives Way to Design-Forward Residential Community Near Round Top
The Tree Tops Development Will Feature "Design-Forward, Highly Architected and Less Traditional" DesignsBY Candice Cowin
Examples of turnkey homes available.
Cambria, California’s Christmas Market
Overview of Tree Tops development
Lot layouts for Tree Top development
The folks of Round Top and nearby Carmine have been in a snit since the announcement last year that a 150-acre Christmas market was being planned about six miles north of town.
Dirk Winter, who operates a similar market in Cambria, California bought the land in early 2021 with plans to build up to 100 rental duplexes on a sloping, wooded hillside where millions of lights and fireworks would be displayed each season. The idea unsettled nearby residents.
Carmine City Council meetings were flooded with protesters. Residents’ concerns ran the gamut of quality-of-life issues including noise, disruption of beauty, traffic, and the use of local resources.
The Fayette County Register quoted a local resident as saying, “The proposed development will be in a quiet, rural neighborhood that has existed with families, livestock, crops, and wildlife for many decades. Based upon articles by the developer’s previous similar properties, this will be a complete upheaval of the quality of life in this community.”
The county and other officials also worried about how the additional traffic and strain on emergency services would affect public safety. County Judge Joe Weber says, “Lots of people have property out there and purchased their homes to watch the sun set in the west. This is a big thing. It’s going to have an impact on infrastructure and quality of life for some.”
Local real estate developer Jim Kastleman noticed that community unrest over the project had quieted down over the summer and called Winter to ask if he’d be interested in selling part of the property for a home development. Winter responded that he would, and sent over a survey. Within hours of receiving the survey, Kastleman received a text from Winter offering him the entire site.
Ten days later papers were being signed with the title company. Kastleman described it as one of the smoothest transactions he’s ever experienced. Fayette Savings Bank immediately saw the value to the community and quickly asked to be involved, making the closing even easier.
“I think Dirk got a bad rap for his project, and folks kind of demonized him. I’ve spent time with him and his family, and he’s a really cool guy. We’ve even contemplated other projects together. However, he is restricted from doing another winter market within 20 miles of Round Top per my contract,” Kastleman says.
Kastleman’s company, Starred Sky Development, has hired highly acclaimed land architect Boundary Works for the aptly named Tree Tops project. Boundary Works will make use of the 60 wooded acres on the aforementioned hill for more secluded lots, while offering thoughtful home positioning and view corridors. A few of the lots will be larger, “agricultural estates” and one parcel may host a few casita-type rentals with hike, bike, and horse trails for the whole community to enjoy.
Tree Tops is branded as “Design-Forward, Highly Architected and Less Traditional.” To make ownership easy and residences move-in ready, Starred Sky has entered collaborations with award-winning architects and builders to provide turn-key solutions.
“These guys don’t want their name in the limelight, but trust me, you’ll recognize them,” Kastleman says. Property owners can also bring their own architects and builders. For information, see starredskyroundtop.com.