It might be a bit of a stretch to say that the word “Bear” in a subdivision name — and in a golf course’s name — has the same panache it used to have.
In part, that’s because of sheer quantity. “Bear,” the nickname of golfer Jack Nicklaus, and his company, have now designed more than 300 courses around the world, including more than a dozen in Palm Beach County — many named “Bear.”
But Bear Island, a golf-course community of 227 homes along Village Boulevard, is still a sought-after place to live.
The community, one of the first to be built in what became a thriving string of single-family neighborhoods and rental communities known as The Villages, is still lush and well-maintained. It is situated on a strip of land next to the Links golf course, and near the Lakes course, both of which are Nicklaus-designed.
It was built in the late 1980s by Burg-DiVosta.
Bear Island — one of the five communities that are part of a master homeowner’s association — offers an upscale environment at reasonable prices, although those price points have been on the rise.
“They’re all very affordable to live in,” Robin Turner, a Realtor who has done many transactions in the area, said, referring to the group of communities that includes Regents Place, Classics at Bear Lakes and Bear Lakes Estates.
“They are built like fortresses, which is excellent for South Florida living, obviously, with storms,” Turner said. “They’re well-known for high-quality concrete-based houses.”
Buddy Carroll, a neighborhood resident, said Burg-DiVosta has always been a name meaning, “You got a lot of house for the money and it was built to last.”
The neighborhood is about five minutes from Interstate 95, close to the Turnpike, and is just a short drive from downtown West Palm Beach’s attractions, including the Kravis Center and CityPlace.
Closer to home, there are three community parks at which residents have access to tennis courts, basketball courts and even two Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The homeowner association fees are about $360 a month, which cover a 24-hour manned security gate, front-yard maintenance, water and sewer and basic cable.
There are now just three homes on the market ranging from $349,900 to $369,500 — all three-bed, two-bath and from 1,974 to 2,327 square feet of living space.
The neighborhood is in a school zone served by Hope-Centennial Elementary, Bear Lakes Middle and Palm Beach Lakes High, which received grades of D, C and C in their most recent assessments.
The community is now making improvements to the entryway, and its bromeliad plantings.
Turner said prices suffered a short while back, as they did everywhere, but recent sales — including a $375,000 sale handled by her realty group in the nearby Regents Place neighborhood — have boosted values.
“After the market collapsed, it was very stagnant here because we didn’t have the comps (comparison prices) to justify mortgages,” she said. “That (the Regents Place sale) changed the dynamics of this entire neighborhood, so now the property values are going up because they’ve justified lending again at the higher rate. And that was the major impediment here.”
Like a lot of people, Carroll said he prefers more to keeping to himself rather than mingling a lot with his neighbors, but he said the community can be as social as residents want to make it.
“We’ve had some wonderful neighbors.”
BY THE NUMBERS
The real estate market at Bear Island
Total number of homes
Homes listed for sale
Median home sales price over the past three months