Location About 150 miles from Atlanta, family-owned Russell Lands includes 14 neighborhoods clustered around the southwest corner of Lake Martin—a 41,000-acre reservoir awarded state “Treasured Lake” status because of its exceptional water quality. The community is about 40 miles from both Auburn and Montgomery.
History The Russells have owned tens of thousands of acres here since before there was a lake. Family patriarch Benjamin Russell was an energetic entrepreneur who befriended Dr. George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute. His grandson, also named Ben, began building lakefront homes in the mid-1960s.
Price Range Most current development is in a prime area known as the Ridge. Custom waterfront homes there start at about $850,000 and range into the millions. A new phase, due as soon as late 2017, will offer smaller Craftsman-style homes from the mid-$400s, designed for downsizing owners and first-time lake house buyers.
Activities Russell Crossroads is a town center with several shops and restaurants, including one helmed by Rob McDaniel, a James Beard Foundation Best Chef South nominee. The Ridge is also home to Lake Martin’s largest waterfront marina, with valet service and dry stack storage for 800 boats. Private Willow Point Golf Course, redesigned by Hurdzan & Fry in 2002, offers water views from at least a dozen holes. More than 100 miles of trails wind through thousands of acres of undeveloped forest.
What’s Unique Featured architects include Bill Ingram, McAlpine-Tankersley, and Jeff Dungan. Strict covenants ensure lots remain wooded and preserve natural shorelines. There are only a few townhomes and no full-service hotels. Relatively few owners offer short-term rentals, even though the majority of properties are second homes. Rustic Russell Cabins date to the 1930s (Bear Bryant rented one). The company offers one-year leases on these historic properties, which are so popular that there’s a waiting list.
This article originally appeared in our Fall 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.