The Man Behind South Down Shores & Long Bay
When construction started in 1981, Laconia’s South Down Farm offered an ideal picturesque setting for condominium homes. Located at the former 126 acre “Taylor Farm” the original planned community had some marketing flaws and the project stalled. When L. John Davidson arrived in July of 1983, South Down was dead in the water and in trouble financially. Enter Davidson, a true visionary who comes up with a completely new waterfront concept plan geared to the vacation home market to give the stalled project new credibility. He then acquired multiple adjoining parcels and almost a mile of shorefront on Paugus Bay. The name was then changed to “South Down Shores” then carried forward to Long Bay and the rest is history.
Today, 32 years later, South Down Shores and Long Bay encompass over 360 acres with almost 1 mile of shorefront on Lake Winnipesaukee. These private, gated communities feature unique villages and single family homes of many architectural styles. A huge investment infrastructure for roads, city water/sewer and underground utilities was made. Davidson created a private yacht club for boats complete with boat slips, racks and a launch area; multiple sandy beaches and breakwaters. Throughout South Down and Long Bay he crafted a series of beautifully landscaped ponds, community buildings, walking trails and an immense waterfront greenbelt common area along the entire shoreline, for all residents to enjoy.
Both communities now have over 600 property owners from many geographic areas who can call the Lakes Region “home”. Many are vacation home owners & semi-retirees and others are year round, permanent residents. Davidson’s ‘vision’ and hard work paid off immensely for the City of Laconia. Today both communities are valued over $114,000,000 by the assessor’s office and they contribute over $3.2 million annually to the City of Laconia’s tax revenue. That’s a lot of income which has helped the city construct a new police station, fire department, schools, parks and other amenities. Not only that but think of the economic impact these 600+ families have contributed to the Lakes Region. Many businesses have prospered because of these communities including general contractors, landscapers, lumber yards, furniture stores, boat, car & golf cart dealers, restaurants and even us REALTORS®…
So just who is this man that saved the South Down Farm project? L John Davidson grew up in Andover, MA and graduated from Phillips Andover and Harvard University. As a young man he worked in his father’s restaurants, he was an air controller in the Korean War and later operated clothing stores called “The Andover Shop” in Cambridge & Andover. He also developed the 400 acre land package for the Raytheon Company Missile Systems Plant and he reconstructed Andover Square after defeating Urban Renewal in the 1960’s.
From 1965-1970 Davidson bought out 70 separate parcels of land, an entire valley in Quechee, VT. He became the architect/developer of one of the largest and most successful developments in New England. The community was called Quechee Lakes and included 6000 acres where Davidson placed 50% of the land in a permanent greenbelt to preserve the integrity and natural beauty of the valley. There are currently over 1700 homes and condominiums in The Queechee Development where he rebuilt a covered bridge over the Ottauquechee River, restored an abandoned mill and relocated other buildings throughout the town. He developed ski trails and built ski lifts for the residents, two championship golf courses, two lakes and a 50 mile trail system. Davidson’s “farmstead concept” was unique to the real estate industry and he was the first to offer the single family home as a condominium.
Davidson also converted the “Look Out Hotel” in Ogunquit, ME into individual condominium suites with a rental management on site. 73 suites were created in the classic hotel overlooking Ogunquit Bay.
After South Down Shores & Long Bay, Davidson and three other New Hampshire men financed a salvage expedition that raised a 70ft section of the H.M.S. DeBraak shipwreck, a British warship that sank off the coast of Delaware in 1798. The wreck was rumored to be carrying vast treasures. Unfortunately there were more artifacts than valuable treasure but the accomplishment was well worth it.
During the past decade Davidson embarked on an “egg-venture” in which “Davidson’s pasteurized eggs” has spent over millions developing an egg pasteurization process to eliminate salmonella and bacteria. He holds 6 patents and he recently filed for a new one which he feels will overcome newer bacteria which have mutated over the years and are becoming more dangerous.
At 84 years old John presently resides in Atkinson, NH and has led a life that has been in his words “anything but dull”.
To watch a video about the top notch amenities South Down Shores has to offer its residents, click here.
please feel free to visit www.s21794.p694.sites.pressdns.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.