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Still Living Foxy
Lake Oswego’s 107 Red Fox Hills townhomes aren’t just part of a housing complex, but rather a community that’s taken care of one another for decades
By Nicole DeCosta
The Lake Oswego Review, Jan 25, 2010
vern uyetake / lake oswego review
“During the grand opening we had the clubhouse open and super brochures,” Donnelly said, “and a live baby red fox that I carried around.”
With 15 mid-century modern buildings, Red Fox Hills is beloved to many who still live there today. The 107 units – located on SW Boca Ratan Drive and Bonniebrae Drive – operate like a small city. Neighbors help with landscaping, pool maintenance and clubhouse rentals by volunteering on committees and through homeowners fees. And those who walk dogs on the many pathways get to know others quickly, like real estate agent Jane Lee experienced when she moved in five years ago.
“You can hide and be quiet, but if you want to get to know people it’s so easy. It is what you make it,” she said. “I love the garden. I plant tomatoes. There’s a garden plot and about eight of us that garden.”
Now listing three properties for sale at Red Fox Hills (they have since sold!) through her company eXp Realty, she said she’s gotten to know more of her neighbors and how special this place is to them, mainly because, they don’t want to leave.
“I love the fact that it’s run by people who live here,” Jennifer Ball said of the homeowner association fees and how they cover expenses for the properties. “You always feel like you can contact them and ask questions. There’s a lot of communication. Word travels fast. It’s a nice little network. You feel like there’s people who know who should be coming and going.”
But Ball will soon be going – moving to San Diego. Ball talked about the warmth of the sunlight each morning in her master bedroom to Roundtree, marketing her property.
“I wish I could transport it with me,” she said of her home. “It’s a great little community.”
Ball has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years. Before moving there, her late mother spent two decades in the complex.
“I think a lot of condos and apartment-type living are so transient. I love how this is set in a neighborhood,” she said.
And many that live here, like Bonnie Klees – the neighborhood association president – said she hopes she never has to move.
“I still have a daughter here,” she said of her daughter who is raising her own family in a nearby unit. “It’s paid off and I have retirement.”
Debbie Hagan, who’s lived at the complex 25 years, said she’s stayed because “it’s quiet and well kept.”
“I’ve had some people stop me while they’re looking to buy (a house) who didn’t even know this was here before,” Hagan said.
It seems to be a trend that many that stay at Red Fox Hills stay for a long time. That devotion intrigues some new buyers, as Roundtree has noticed of prospective clients looking for townhouse-style living that feels like a neighborhood.
Through their years, touch-ups have altered the exterior of the buildings and interior alterations have brought some units more up to date – with granite and laminate or wood flooring. But everything – and many of the residents – remains the same.
“They’re solidly built. They were built as condos. The walls are really thick with a good firewall,” Roundtree said.
Donnelly, 80, said an architect known for work at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland was used to design the buildings. And Hallberg is “a nationally known person,” Donnelly said of the man who also built Bay Roc off McVey Avenue.
“It was a well-conceived and well-designed project,” added Hallberg, 92.
Klees moved to Red Fox Hills more than 30 years ago and said, “The longer I live here the more people I get to know.”
Tidy binders in her den keep her organized as she runs the “tiny town.”
Klees said she fell into her position as neighborhood association president.
“I knew I could manage,” she said, as she used to monitor residents halls at Lewis and Clark College. “Now, we have 45 people involved in committees.”
Klees began volunteering in her neighborhood 15 years ago after she thought the hot tub was kept too hot.
“It shouldn’t be 104 degrees, you know,” she said. “I guess that started it.”
Klees and her team of 12 committees manages the 300-square-foot pool and hot tub area and 1,000-square-foot clubhouse which can be rented for parties and meetings.
“It also covers the exterior maintenance – siding, roofing, painting. And then all the landscaping – beautiful landscaping,” Roundtree said, who is in charge of organizing the complex’s clubhouse rentals.
Roundtree said that Red Fox Hills is unique because of how it’s volunteer governed.
“There isn’t a management company that we need to pay fees to,” she said of homeowner association fees of $237 a month, run by the board. “We have a larger amount of reserves than most complexes.”
Roundtree said that many other similar complexes pay assessments for necessary projects with no reserve funds to cover expenses, but Red Fox Hills “is just not in trouble financially,” she said.
Finances aside, seven owners have lived at the complex all four decades, according to Roundtree. Because owners aren’t allowed to rent their unit out, Roundtree believes that the little turnover “keeps the quality up.”
“I feel very safe here,” she said. “There are probably people who don’t know (this complex) exists.”
The three townhomes Roundtree is marketing excite her, she said, because she’s not only selling a house, but a lifestyle – and one that’s remained foxy all these years.
“It was laid out very well,” Donnelly said. “Life is what you enjoy, and I think people moving there really enjoyed it.”
And it sounds like they still do.
Jane Lee can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 503-636-5060.
Copyright 2010 Pamplin Media Group, 6605 S.E. Lake Road, Portland, OR 97222 • 503-226-6397
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Jane Lee is a Real Estate Broker with eXp Realty in Lake Oswego, Oregon