First Foundation Dug at Rainbow Bridge, East Otto

By Jann Wiswall

Mike Incorvaia remembers hiking Bailey Mountain in East Otto, N.Y., with his dad and uncle when he was a teen. It was an inspirational place at one of the highest points (1,800 feet above sea level) in Cattaraugus County. From certain spots on certain days, you can even see Lake Erie.

So, it’s no surprise that as soon as he got the chance as an adult, he and his partner in the project, Donald Matre, bought 300 acres on the mountain. After several years of careful thought and research, the partners decided to develop it. But it wouldn’t be just any development. It would be geared toward families who wanted to live and/or vacation in a secluded, peaceful, natural setting with easy access to Ellicottville, Holiday Valley, HoliMont, Griffis Sculpture Park, state parks and all the other attractions the area has to offer all year round.

To that end, Incorvaia has created a thoughtfully designed housing development, which will eventually include 32 chalet-style homes, with 3,000 square feet or more, on 5 acres each with plenty of surrounding land available for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, picnicking and more.

The development is called Lofty Mountain Grandeur, a name inspired by the hymn “How Great Thou Art.”It is just a nine-minute drive to Ellicottville, a one-hour trip to Buffalo, 2.5 hours to Toronto and zero hours to total calm and relaxation amid nature’s beauty.

Phase 1 of the project – the Bailey Hills section – began in 2009 when few were building new homes because of the recession. Undaunted, Incorvaia broke ground, believing that his special place should be shared and that once people saw the area, they would fall in love with it, too.

Bailey Hills features 13 lots (only one is still available) and 12 beautifully crafted homes with astounding views. With pricing starting at $399,000, homes feature first floor great rooms with vaulted ceilings, pegged timber beams, 6-inch wide white oak plank floors with radiant heat throughout, plus two first floor bedrooms and two baths. On the second floor is a loft overlooking the great room, along with another bedroom and bath. Basements have room for two additional bedrooms and two baths.

Floor plans (viewable online) are customizable for buyer flexibility and the beautiful exteriors differ, so there’s no cookie cutter feel about the community.

Much of the materials used in the homes are locally sourced. The great rooms’ gas fireplaces are constructed of locally sourced stone. A local Amish blacksmith crafts the beautiful iron railings that make a statement both inside and out. The blacksmith also creates striking, custom light fixtures — from wall sconces to chandeliers. Another local Amish cabinetmaker constructs the kitchen cabinetry from 100-year-old oak. And every effort is made to reuse wood from larch and other trees removed during construction.

Homes in Phase 2 of the development — called Rainbow Ridge — will include 19 homes in keeping with Phase 1. The foundation for the first of the Rainbow Ridge homes was dug last week. Two homes are planned for construction this year, with completion scheduled for early fall 2014.

Incorvaia’s vision for the property is more than just homes. He wants residents to be able to enjoy the natural environment freely and safely. One mile of hiking trails have been cut, with another mile planned. He created a fishing pond with a picnic gazebo for family and neighborhood gatherings. The property is posted — no hunting allowed — and snowmobiling is prohibited on the property for safety, noise and privacy reasons. But those activities are readily available nearby.

For Incorvaia, Lofty Mountain Grandeur is a passion to be shared with “families who want to reconnect with the deeper rhythms of life.” For more information, visit, or call Mike Incorvaia at (716) 583-0535.