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Posted: August 21, 2008

Cupcakes with Martha

KB Home celebrates Stapleton's one-year anniversary of Martha Stewart homes

Rebecca Cole

On Tuesday, 100 lucky winners gathered at Stapleton for an ‘exclusive catered luncheon,’ waiting patiently — more than two hours — for a glimpse of their revered lifestyle guru.

Gritty construction dust coated the sidewalk and drills whined. Under a tent filled with Martha-blue covered tables and gerbera daisies, guests anxiously decorated cupcakes in hopes that the doyenne of "good things" would pick theirs the winner.

Held to celebrate the first anniversary of KB Home’s Martha Stewart community at Stapleton II, the event showcased the power of Stewart’s brand to attract buyers and influence sales. (Watch the video interview.)

Stewart is still going strong after a shaky couple of years due to her felony conviction in 2004 on four counts of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice. The company Stewart founded, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, posted a 5 percent revenue gain in the second quarter this year and $1.7 million in operating income. Given today’s economic woes, that bested last year’s same quarter loss of $7.8 million by a wide margin.

Builders like KB Home are struggling. New home sales are down by 40 percent from last year, according to the U.S. Commerce Department in May, and several homebuilders have pulled out of Colorado entirely. The company announced second quarter losses in June of $2.03 a share and reported that quarterly revenues were 19.5 percent lower than results in the same quarter last year.

"This community has been extremely successful for us," said Jeff Mezger, CEO of KB Home. "We’re proud to be in partnership with Martha Stewart."

It sounds like it certainly was a good thing for KB Home that it teamed up with Stewart; the collection’s sales are 38 percent higher than the 11 other Stapleton builders, according to MetroStudies. About 40 homes in the company’s first two filings are under contract.

Calling it "a great success story," Mezger said the Martha Stewart collection was in the top three for sales in new home communities in Denver. "I think that’s testimony to people recognizing the value and choice in the product we offer. We’re delighted and thrilled to be here."

Patterned after Stewart’s own homes in Connecticut, New York and Maine, the homes are filled her signature touches, including granite slab countertops, wainscoting, picture-frame molding and open shelving. The homes range in size from 1,593 square feet to 2,084 square feet and are priced between $320,000 and $384,000.

"I feel really good when I come into (any of these homes)," Stewart said. "Whether it’s the Skylands, the Lily Pond or the Katonah, I just want people to be comfortable, to be happy."

That the homes are also energy star certified is something Stewart said she is "thrilled" with. "In this day of very high energy prices and waste, it’s very important to save as much money as one can on the heating and the cooling of one’s home."

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Rebecca Cole is the online editor at Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit "think-and-do" tank that drives the efficient use of energy and resources. Learn more about RMI's latest initiative, Reinventing Fire, to move the U.S. off fossil fuels by 2050.

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