Parade of Homes house marks Wichita builder’s 50th anniversary

04/22/2014 5:29 PM

04/22/2014 11:40 PM

This weekend’s Spring Parade of Homes will have extra significance for one of the participating homebuilders.

Nies Homes is marking its 50th year in business.

It will be one of 53 builders showing 133 homes in Wichita and 11 other area cities over the next three weekends. The homes range in price from $100,000 to $2.5 million.

This year’s Spring Parade is an upbeat one because it comes during an upswing in home building, said Wess Galyon, president and CEO of the Wichita Area Builders Association, which puts on the showings.

“Everyone I’ve talked to is feeling pretty optimistic about it,” Galyon said of local home-building activity.

He said that according to WABA data, single-family housing permits were up 13 percent in the first two months of 2014: 146 permits compared with 129 in the first two months of 2013.

There are two more home builders and two more homes in the 2014 Spring Parade than were in last year’s, Galyon added.

“We’re ahead of the game for 2014,” he said. “It’s nice to see the activity in the subdivisions picking up. There’s some nice-looking stuff out there. The values are still great relative to price.”

Nies Homes has seven homes in this spring’s parade, which “is probably more than we’ve had in the last several years,” said Cherie Nies Cowgill, Nies Homes vice president. “It’s just the market is picking up really well.”

Of the seven homes it has in the parade, the company has designated one, a 5,000-square-foot, $1 million house in the Residences at the Waterfront development near 13th and Webb, as its 50th anniversary house, Nies Cowgill said.

“It’s nothing we’d ever built before, and it’s stunningly beautiful,” she said of the decision to designate it as the anniversary house.

Nies Cowgill said it’s probably the first $1 million spec home her company has built in the past five years.

“I feel that people are ready to start investing again in the upper-end market heavily,” she said. The anniversary house already has a contract on it, Nies Cowgill said, adding that the new owners have allowed Nies Homes to stage it and show it in the parade.

Nies Homes held a public ribbon-cutting at the home on Tuesday afternoon, followed by a private open house to mark the anniversary.

The company was started by Clifford and Joan Nies. Clifford Nies started building while a full-time employee at Boeing, His first projects were three duplexes financed with a $3,500 loan from his father.

Today, Nies Cowgill, their daughter, heads the company’s sales operations and is its lead designer. Another daughter, Patty Nies-McCullough, is a certified public account and oversees the business operations. And Nies Cowgill’s adult sons Nick Cowgill and Curtis Cowgill are Nies Homes’ operations manager and estimating manager, respectively.

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