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Greene County leads subdivision pack

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In unanimous fashion March 9, Springfield City Council ushered in a subdivision plan not seen in the city since 2008.

The next steps for the developers of 100 new lots at the Hickory Hills neighborhood might be prolonged. The investor group behind the second phase has given the green light for engineering work on the 37-acre parcel in northeast Springfield, but managing member Jim Hutcheson said they’re in no rush for new home development.

“Step one is over,” Hutcheson said, noting after a few months of work by Anderson Engineering Inc., the owners will accept infrastructure bids, a key factor in how quickly development takes place. “We’ll aggressively market it. We just want to make sure our costs are in line.”

During the public hearing to rezone the Hickory Hills planned development, city staff and council members celebrated the first 100-lot proposal on their desks in the last six years.

The Hickory Hills effort is on top of seven subdivision development plans representing roughly 340 lots recorded or received this year by Greene County Planning and Zoning. Department Director Kent Morris said the 56-lot Overland Heights has been recorded southwest of the city, and six plans under review include some 60 lots both in Wild Rose Estates near Republic and Forest Hills east of Springfield, as well as 20 lots for a second phase of Pearson Park.

“We’re doing more lots right now than the last two years combined,” Morris said, noting last year only a handful of residential plats were recorded. “We’d been anticipating that, at some time, subdivision development would start again. We just didn’t know when. Apparently, it’s here.”

Around the corner, Ron Stenger Cos. plans to submit up to 70 lots for Lions Gate, Phase II, said developer Stu Stenger. With development of Stenger Cos.’ Overland Heights and combined with the second phase of Hickory Hills, the city and county are in line for over 500 new residential lots.

“Development has really picked up in the Springfield area,” Stenger said, pointing to 12 lots selling in three days at Overland Heights and, in the last 60 days, Bent Tree and Lakes at Wild Horse selling out the remaining lots. “The builders are back out wanting to build. There is not a lot of supply right now. We’re trying to provide that.”

Greene County planners are reviewing Stenger Cos.’ 103-lot Hickory Valley plan. Until that is recorded, Stenger said the company has over 80 lots available, all in the county.

“How we judge the market as developers is lot sales,” he said. “You’re essentially making a bet on things are going to be good.”

Activity in Greene County is well ahead of neighboring county developments.

In Christian County, a recent 12-lot subdivision north of Fremont Hills is only the second proposal since 2013. With none recorded last year, Christian County Planning and Development Office Manager Cathy Leming said just six lots for Woodland Hills came on line in 2013.

“The last few years have been really slow,” she said.

Now under county review is property owners Danny and Julie Penick’s 40 acres, dubbed Montreux Estates. Leming said the subdivision is in the preliminary plat stage and a rezoning hearing is scheduled March 16.

“That’s the only as far as new subdivisions this year,” she said.

There is little development to speak of in Webster County, too, said county Commissioner Denzil Young.

“We will follow a little behind. I get around a lot, and I haven’t seen a lot of movement,” Young said, other than some speculative housing around Rogersville and Marshfield.

“We’ll probably see it in the summer.”

Homes should begin to pop up this spring in Ozark’s Grand Haven, where infrastructure is in place and two foundations are poured, said Tonya Murfin Hayes of Southwest Missouri Realty.

In mid-2013, she and her husband, Brian, purchased the fourth and fifth phases to sell 44 lots in the subdivision. A 13-year Realtor developing for the first time under TLH Holdings LLC, she said contractors’ appetites to build homes are just now re-emerging.

“I’ve learned you have to have a lot of patience with development,” Hayes said. “This subdivision went over very well in the 2004-05 era.”

Now, two lots are left in the 14-lot fourth phase, and she said 18 lots of the next 30 are sold.

“By the time we got streets poured, I think we had 11 under contract,” Hayes said of Phase IV, where Nixa-based Linville Construction LLC has a couple of homes underway.

Apart from the builders’ buys, she said two individuals purchased lots for their builders of choice.

“That kind of proves good lots are few and far between in Ozark and Nixa,” Hayes said.

Morris said a similar situation exists in Greene County.

“We’ve been seeing the number of building permits increase,” he said. “That means the number of lots available are decreasing.”

Through February, 46 single-family residential building permits were issued in the county, up from 33 in the first two months last year, said Dave O’Dell, head of the Building Regulations office.

Since 2012, home permits have stayed above 300 a year, with 2013 marking 373 permits and 2014 sliding to 342, O’Dell said.

Stenger expects to start development of Hickory Valley this spring.

He said the company’s 10-12 core builders are back, knocking on the development door.

“Builders that used to build before the crash, we’re seeing them come back,” he said, citing Shawn Turner Construction, Cantrell’s Patriot Homes and Greg Off Construction. “In the past six years, Springfield has worked through the foreclosure inventory. Builders are back building spec homes and they’re selling, because that foreclosure inventory is gone.”

Factoring in a second phase of Hickory Hills and an expected second phase of Lions Gate, the city and county are in line for over 500 new residential lots. Greene County plans range from 15 additional lots in Marlborough Manor to 103 lots for Hickory Valley.[[In-content Ad]]

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