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Local

Barton becomes Arbor Estates

Council approves $1.6M loan to fund Phase 1 construction plans

Bruce Showalter, housing director for the Newton Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), looks upon Arbor Estates, which had been previously known as the Barton trust land. The Newton City Council approved a $1.6 million loan to the NHDC to fund the Phase 1 construction of the 70.7-acre parcel.
Bruce Showalter, housing director for the Newton Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), looks upon Arbor Estates, which had been previously known as the Barton trust land. The Newton City Council approved a $1.6 million loan to the NHDC to fund the Phase 1 construction of the 70.7-acre parcel.

A $1.6 million loan to the Newton Housing Development Corporation (NHDC) for the Phase 1 construction of the former Barton trust land, now referred to as Arbor Estates, was approved by the city council during its meeting Monday.

The 70.7-acre parcel located directly north of Fairmeadows North Plat 8 was acquired by the NHDC last year for approximately $1 million in an effort to expand residential development in Newton. Once the land is cultivated to meet the needs of builders, NHDC Housing Director Bruce Showalter anticipates Arbor Estates will support approximately 155 to 156 residential lots.

City council’s decision will allow crews to conduct drainage and water retention work throughout the full acreage, which is something Showalter said will benefit developments in the future. By preparing the site grading, the installation of a sanitary sewer line and the completion of a regional stormwater detention pond, the ground will be stabilized and ready to go when NHDC needs more lots to sell.

“The City (of Newton) and NHDC will bid that out this year and then hopefully have the work done this fall and get it ready so that next spring if we have a demand or need for that — which we’re hoping we will — we can put in streets and start the first phase on that at Arbor Estates in 2020,” Showalter said Wednesday.

According to the real estate development agreement between the City of Newton and NHDC, the housing-focused nonprofit organization has agreed to reimburse the city for the cost of its land acquisition and site preparations upon the sale of lots in Arbor Estates. NHDC is also obligated to meet with developers or individual lot purchasers (or their respective agents) “until all of the land is sold for residential development.”

Preliminary engineering and design work will begin before the city and NHDC call for bids by late spring or summer; work would likely take place in during late summer or fall. Showalter hopes land preparations are finished before the end of the year.

Showalter is confident the Arbor Estates land — located along North 11th Avenue East between East 19th Street North and extending about seven blocks or so — will be a highly desirable housing area judging by its proximity to Berg Middle School and Agnes Patterson Park. Most of the acreage has been zoned as R-1, which would only include residential areas classified as single-family housing like Fairmeadows North Plat 8.

However, there are some sections of the parcel that are zoned R-2, which Showalter said could become a single-family house or a duplex. Another small strip of land is zoned R-3 and could be used to fit a 12-unit apartment complex. In any case, the NHDC housing director is eager to see more housing opportunities available for Newton.

“It’s wonderful,” Showalter said. “We went so many years without too much housing activity and to see this much going on is exciting to see.”

Nearly eight years ago, Newton had not issued any new housing permits for single family housing. Since 2011, the NHDC has issued about 70 new permits in the town of approximately 15,000 people. By the end of this year, Showalter is expecting to issue close to 25 new permits in town. That’s “his dream” anyways and what the NHDC is constantly “working for.”

Growing single-family homes has been something the Newton City Council desired for and worked to accomplish for many years. The council named it a priority in its 2018-20 goals list.

“It’s just all kind of coming together now,” Showalter said. “The conditions were right. We had an opportunity to buy this land. We had our eye on it. The estate decided they wanted to sell it so we had to move or lose it ... This is what NHDC and the city, for the past three to four years, has been working on.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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