If Rob Bowman has his way, his company’s Hastings development in South Fayette will draw home buyers who are reminded of their childhood hometowns, or perhaps the kind of place they always wanted to live.

Charter Homes & Neighborhoods, which has offices in Lancaster and Pittsburgh, will break ground this month on the first of 500 homes to be built on 80 acres that once housed Mayview State Hospital. Six people have reserved spots after touring the construction site, and the first occupants could move in by year’s end, says Bowman, president of Charter.

“Pittsburgh is this wonderful place to be, with a wonderful downtown that has reinvented itself,” says Bowman. “We’re going to put a neighborhood in that’s something nobody in Pittsburgh has seen.”

Hastings will be the first Great American Neighborhood® that Charter builds in Pittsburgh’s suburbs. The concept is to build homes, businesses and amenities designed to engage people in the places they live. With homes costing $200,000 to $600,000, Charter estimates the development will generate more than $758,000 in property taxes annually for Allegheny County.

“What we do is all about creating a sense of place, a sense of identity, and a way of connecting with people,” he says. “In Pittsburgh, we see continued migration into the city, but at some point, if you want to move out of that urban environment and into the suburbs, you’ve got an alternative. What we do is create places and spaces for people to connect.”

The Hastings name revives the history of the site from 150 years ago when a railroad stop there allowed people to disembark, take a walk, and then wait for the train on the Hastings family porch, says Bowman.

Mayview State Hospital, which once spanned more than 300 acres, closed at the end of 2008. The state sold the property two years later to the Aloe brothers of Mt. Washington for $505,000. Charter, which recently purchased the property from the Aloes, has graded the site and erected a construction trailer.

Charter has preserved many century-old trees on the property, Bowman says. The plan is for the development to have five miles of walking trails, 24 acres of green space, a natural, free-range TerraPark® playground and the Crossroads at Hastings, where locally-owned businesses will include a coffee shop, athletic club, day spa and pet grooming service, he says.

To accommodate people of all ages, Charter is offering eight home styles, with varying floor plans, amenities and maintenance service.

A recent open house at the Hastings site in South Fayette.

Across Mayview Road, 70 acres of the former Mayview property was conveyed to South Fayette Township and will become an extension of its Fairview Park. In addition, Boyce Mayview Park is nearby and the Upper St. Clair Community & Recreation Center is located on a hill overlooking the development.

Hastings is the fifth neighborhood Charter has created in the Pittsburgh region, including the sold-out Elmhurst neighborhood in Sewickley and the Summit neighborhood in Mt. Lebanon. Charter has more than 15 developments in central Pennsylvania.