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Some construction expected

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While the majority of homes sold in the village each year are existing structures, new construction continues to add housing stock to the village, especially in the housing developments of Birch III, Stancliff and Thistle Creek. And even during this construction off-season, interest is picking up for new housing.

Several custom-built homes are expected to be built in the Birch III development in 2011, according to ReMax Victory realtor Rick Kristensen. Construction is pending on two to three sold lots as property owners await the sale of their existing homes in a tough sellers’ market. Seven houses are already completed in the 20-acre development, which originally had 35 single-family lots. While construction almost came to a stand-still in the development for the past several years, things are looking up.

“There is definite interest picking up in this price range, which has been lacking in Yellow Springs,” said Kristensen of housing in the $250,000 to $300,000 range. At Birch III, zoned Residence A, lots are larger than other local developments, at about one-third of an acre to two-thirds of an acre each and costing from $57,000 to $79,000. In addition to having larger lots, Birch III is in an established neighborhood, offers the possibility of basements due to the area soil and abuts 10 acres of green space, Kristensen said. The development’s showcase home, a four-bedroom, three-bath 1,900-square-foot house built by Sugartree Homes, is still for sale.

Birch III developer Mark Bertke did not return calls seeking comment.

One of the two spec homes in the Stancliff development sold last week after being on the market a few years. So far three lots have been built on and sold in the 1.7-acre, 10-lot development started in 2006, and one spec house is still on the market, a 1,500-square-foot three-bedroom, two-bath house, according to developer Suzanne Clauser. Six lots, each around 65 feet by 60 feet, remain. Clauser said she has been discouraged by the slow pace of sales in the development, which she attributes to the collapse of the housing market.

“People just aren’t buying new houses. If they can afford the size, it’s in an older home,” she said. Also challenging to the development was a delay of about two years while Clauser secured the Planned Unit Development zoning on the property, which allowed its density in exchange for the common area that makes up a quarter of the property.

Clauser’s vision was for moderately-priced homes in a neighborhood enclave, with little yard maintenance necessary because of small lot sizes.

“Each one looks different and each one to some extent reflects the architecture in the older part of the village,” she said. “They are just rather nice, cottagey-looking Yellow Springs houses.”

At Thistle Creek, construction has begun on three energy-efficient spec houses by Roy Eastman, who bought the development’s 10 remaining lots from developer Jonathan Brown in 2008. Started in 2005, the 4.2-acre development was originally platted with 22 single-family homes on small lots along with a common area. Since Brown built an initial six homes for Home, Inc., three market rate homes, including a farm house retrofitted by Brown, have also been sold in the development.

The three houses, financed by Eastman and built by Brown, will be 1,600-, 1,200- and 800-square-feet. They will have the right combination of windows for solar gain and 16-inch thick insulated walls to retain heat, and will be heated year round by the sun rather than a fossil-fueled -furnace.

Another new energy-efficient home to be added to the village is a straw bale house on Railroad Street built by Beth and Andy Holyoke, who have constructed six other straw bale structures in and around the village since 1997. Plans for the two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,200-square-foot house, which will be built using locally-sourced straw bales, were recently approved by the Village. In addition to the 18 inches of insulation provided by the straw bales, the house will have passive solar features, solar hot water panels and the Holyoke’s signature earthen plaster exterior. The house will be built on a lot owned by the Holyokes.

As the season for real estate sales and home building nears, local developers and realtors look forward to interest in building new homes in the village in 2011.

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