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Home developer showing interest in Ligonier

February 16th, 2018

By Steve Garbacz | KPC Media - The News Sun

A home developer is expressing interest in available land in Ligonier for a new residential community and is planning to show off one of its neighborhoods to city officials.

A new subdivision would be one of the first major residential developments in housing-short Noble County in recent history.

City officials are planning a field trip to Churubusco later this month to view a housing addition built by Ideal Suburban Homes, which has expressed an interested possibly building in the more than 120 acres of land the city annexed on its south side last year. The trip will be a way to get a look at the types of home models that are available and discussion neighborhood options with the developer, Mayor Patty Fisel said at Monday’s Ligonier City Council meeting.

Ideal Suburban Homes is one of two developers that’s already been talking to the mayor about the possibility of building new homes. The city expanded its borders in hopes of opening up new space for residential development, which is badly needed in the growing city with a booming industrial sector that attracts a lot of workers to western Noble County.

Ideal has built in other additions throughout the area including Noble Hawk and Orchard Place in Kendallville, as well as subdivisions in Auburn and Fremont.

“They’re going to do a sort of a walkthrough through a community, one of the communities that was built by one of the parties that’s interested in building here,” Fisel said.

Noble County is badly in need of new housing and the Noble County Economic Development Corp. is in the midst of a countywide study to determine what types of homes are needed in each community.

Population growth has been stagnant and a low availability of housing has repeatedly been identified by local officials as a limiting factor to new growth.

Several communities don’t have much land available for new development, so Ligonier’s proactive effort to annex land is helping position the city to be one of the first communities eyed for new construction.

According to Ideal Suburban Homes’ website, two homes currently available in Churubusco are priced around the $200,000 level.

Of the northeast Indiana homes listed on the developer’s site, most range between about 1,250-2,000 square feet, with prices between approximately $130,000-$240,000.

A common size for existing houses available for sale on Ideal’s website appears to be three-bedroom, two-bathroom models, sized about 1,700 square feet for around $200,000.

Those types of houses might be a little too pricey for the median household incomes in Ligonier and Noble County.

According to Census data, the median household income in Ligonier is about $44,000. According to a local real estate agent, a family with a $50,000 — around the median earnings for Noble County households — would generally be able to afford a mortgage for a home in the range of $110,000-$135,000.

But the additional housing stock could create a market for more established families looking to upgrade to something larger or newer than their current home.

The mayor issued a reminder that although the city annexed additional land, it doesn’t own any of the property. It would be up to private landowners to work out a deal to acquire vacant ground in order to start a new subdivision, but the city would be highly involved in reviewing site plans and potentially help with infrastructure.

Cooperating from the start could also help both the developer and city avoid issues later, which would be beneficial to both sides.

“The city does not own the property. We are not the developer, but our interest in what happens there is important. This community will be the one that services them,” Fisel said. “We ran into issues before where someone has come in and done a development and it’s done in such a way the city can’t take it over and we’d like to eliminate that issue from happening.”

The field trip is scheduled for Feb. 26, but a time hasn’t been set yet. It would likely occur before that night’s city council meeting.

Fisel said the builder would like to host the building commissioner, city engineer and at least one representative from the city’s redevelopment commission — a board that could potentially be asked to help fund part of the development such as new roads or utility extensions.

Categories Regional Leadership