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New housing development planned for SE Fort Wayne

New housing development planned for SE Fort Wayne

The City Council is expected to approve a TIF loan for a brand new housing development on the city’s southeast side that would be the first market-rate project in a half century.

Roosevelt Reserves, developed by Southsider Jerry Starks, is due to receive a $5.2 million boost Tuesday. The TIF loan received a “do-pass” vote from most of the council members at last Tuesday’s council meeting.

Farmland at Hessen Cassel and Tillman Roads is the site of a new subdivision, Roosevelt Reserves.

Councilmen Jason Arp and Paul Ensley were the only two to object for different reasons.

The loan will help lower the price of land acquisition to between $30,000 to $40,000 a lot rather than the typical lot cost in northwest or southwest Allen County between $50,000 and $80,000, said Starks, a managing broker and owner of JM Realty.

Eighteen of the 263 lots are pending in the 141-acre subdivision that  wraps around the corner of Hessel Cassel and Tillman roads, land Starks acquired about four years ago.

A Southsider all his life, educated at Lutheran schools including Concordia Lutheran High School, Starks wants to bring back geographical prosperity he remembers as a kid.

“The Southeast used to be very glamorous. You know we had everything here. The biggest grocery store was Scott’s. We had Southtown Mall. We had so much going on and then we seen it migrate out north. It seemed it was left behind.

“So me being born and raised on the southeast side of town, I just really felt we needed to put some money and put something back into the community,” Starks, 46, said Tuesday at the property site.

Crown Colony, a subdivision built about 50 years ago and the last major subdivision in the area, sits within striking distance of the farmland where Starks will build his homes, under his company, Hawthorne Signature Homes. Hawthorne is the name of the street where Starks was born, he said.

But he hopes to attract the same builders you find out northwest and southwest where a building boom is helping to alleviate the area’s housing shortage.

Roosevelt Reserves homes will start on lots of 9,100 square feet with homes at a 1,400 square feet minimum for a ranch and ,700 square feet for a two-story home.

Homes will be required to be built with 25 percent natural stone. Sheds and chain link fencing will not be allowed, Starks said, much like the subdivisions in other county areas.

The subdivision will feature pond views, links to area trails and a small section set up for commercial use and a neighborhood center, Starks said.

“We plan on moving dirt, hopefully, around April, May and have the first foundation down in September,” Starks said.

He believes he’ll attract people who live or lived on the southeast side and want to stay there, but selling the area comes with challenges.

“A house out southeast costs the same thing to build out northwest, but you can’t get the comps out southeast you’ve got out northwest and southwest, so we need help from the city who has been helping,” Starks explained.

“The TIF program is going to help to keep the development costs down.  We also need the business people, the Menard’s, the Lowe’s, to come out and help us, give us pricing on materials, (to) just say ‘hey, we want to be part of this’,” Starks said. ““We want to make sure that individuals on the southeast side can have the same type of amenities people on the northwest and southwest have.”

The TIF loan comes out of the Legacy Fund, the same fund that provided loans to The Clyde Theater for $1 million and Electric Works, $10 million, according to information obtained by WANE-15.

Starks said while there are fees, the interest on the loan is minimal.

“The main thing is we want community support,” Starks said. “It’s a risky project. There hasn’t been any development in the span of 40 to 50 years.”