By MeLinda Schnyder - Photography By Madison Ham
Bob Scott wants you to know that he’s not a professional developer and Fiddler’s Cove at Prairie Pines in northwest Wichita is his first – and likely only – new home development.
That explains why it’s unlike any other development in the Wichita area: just 50 lots but each is a large, half-acre lot, at least half of Fiddler’s Cove’s 40 acres are devoted to parks, lakes and other open spaces, none of the houses back up to another house and the development borders Prairie Pines, a cultural hub for theater, music and other special events.
“We put a lot of emotion and romance into it that not every developer does,” said Scott, known in the community as a long-time State Farm Insurance agent and the owner of Prairie Pines, a Christmas tree farm that opened in 1980 that has expanded to a year-round operation. “I wanted to make money at it, of course, but my driving force was to create something really nice that wasn’t being done on the west side of Wichita. Fiddler’s Cover is more of a romantic dream than a practical dream for me, just like Prairie Pines was and still is. It’s about a place to live that has plenty of room, is high quality and has plenty of trees and amenities.”
Scott estimates he is a year or two away from completing Fiddler’s Cove, named for his love of music and the development being within hearing distance of the popular Chamber Music at the Barn summer concert series at Prairie Pines. They started selling homes in 2008 and have 13 lots remaining, along with three show houses for sale ranging from the upper $600,000s to $1.2 million.
Some of Wichita’s premier builders have homes in Fiddler’s Cove and the public can see the three show homes during Wichita Area Builders Association’s Fall Parade of Homes that runs for three weekends from Oct. 7-22.
Fiddler’s Cove attracts buyers looking for a peaceful, quiet, secluded and relaxed environment. Its size gives Fiddler’s Cove the feel of a small neighborhood where neighbors can get to know everyone in the development.
“You wind your way back off of 37th Street and then suddenly you see this beautiful stone bridge that serves as the entrance and it’s a ‘wow’ for people,” said Angie George, a Berkshire Hathaway PenFed Realty broker who represents Fiddler’s Cove.
The bridge, Scott said, is one of several sentimental features. He purchased the stones from the abandoned two-story building where Scott attended grade school in western Kansas and moved it here to build the bridge. It’s the only way in or out of the development.
“Buyers love that it’s tucked away and they appreciate that there’s one road in and one road out, for security purposes. It isn’t gated but the bridge gives you a sense of seclusion,” said Sharon Lee, the Berkshire Hathaway PenFed Realty agent for Fiddler’s Cove.
Lee said that many buyers have built homes with screened back porches to take advantage of the beautiful views and abundance of wildlife.
“One of the best things Bob has done in developing Fiddler’s Cove is that no matter where you are in the development, you’re backing up to water or trees,” said Lee, adding that homes are on city water for consumption and each has a well for gardening and recreational use.
The south and east sides of Fiddler’s Cover are bounded by lakes, the north side has a 100-yard berm with trees and native grasses that grow tall and wave in the wind and the west side is separated from a neighboring development by a forested buffer three trees deep. In the middle of the development is a heavily treed park with a saltwater pool, a basketball court and a 700-foot narrow stream lined with tons of rocks and featuring two waterfalls.
“Any smart developer would set aside 20 percent to not sell but in our development, we have half the land dedicated to parks and lakes,” said Scott, an energetic 80-year-old who still climbs mountains on family vacations and remains hands-on with Fiddler’s Cove, walking the property at least once a day and driving through once a day.
Scott estimates there are 400 to 500 trees throughout the development –Chinese pistache trees, maples, oaks, redbuds, along with pines – chosen for their longevity and quality of color. Additionally, homeowners are offered unlimited pine trees for their yard, planted by Scott’s Prairie Pines crew.
“Any pines that we put in now are loblolly pines, which get to be 100 feet tall and live 100 years. They are magnificent trees that grow very fast,” he said.
Scott bought the acreage where Fiddler’s Cove sits in 1989 and had nearly 40,000 trees growing there until deciding to harvest the trees in the early 2000s and develop the land. His vision was a high-end development within the sought-after Maize school district that would allow residents to enjoy Prairie Pines, which offers year-round cultural experiences: summer concerts, an old-fashioned Christmas experience, dinner theater and other special events.
“On a summer night, you can sit in the backyard and listen to music or walk over to Prairie Pines to enjoy a concert,” Scott said. “It’s really very enchanting.”