By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Local officials ceremoniously broke ground on a housing development Tuesday on what could be among the first projects completed after a study suggested Enid needs hundreds of new homes.
Chisholm Creek Village, located within sight of the Van Buren overpass and exchange in northern Enid, already has several homes built. Developer David Ritchie plans on adding 31 more. If the housing market holds, he plans on building 15 homes each year.
“From that, we hope to be able to cruise through here within the next two years,” he said Tuesday.
Each home has a geothermal unit and efficiencies that will dramatically cut heating and cooling costs, Ritchie said. The geothermal units pump water 200 feet down into the ground, where it can both disperse and retrieve heat.
A family of three, he said, essentially can get free hot water from the savings and see electric bills average less than $100.
The development began almost 20 years ago, but Ritchie recently got approval to create the final lots. It comes at a time when Enid needs the floor space, said Enid Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Brent Kisling.
“The economy in Enid is really ginning, in case you haven’t noticed,” he said.
The assumption is more business means more employees. If they don’t already live in Enid, the workers will need a place to live.
During a study that tried to estimate how many homes are needed here, the experts asked around to gauge existing business expansion.
“They found that in the next six months, the city of Enid would be adding 785 new jobs. And over the next two years, we were projected to add 1,687 jobs,” Kisling said.
The ERDA feared there would be a significant housing shortage if developers weren’t prodded into building new homes. There usually are 600 or so houses on the market in Enid, Kisling noted; just two years ago, housing availability had dropped to below 200.
“We weren’t getting a lot of new homes built. And it wasn’t just in the city of Enid — it was also in Garfield County,” he said.
To alleviate that expected crush of new workers, the housing study’s authors said that Enid could handle 400 new homes immediately, with another 200 built over the next two years.
The study, Kisling said, quantified the need and encouraged developers to start construction.
“And now we’re starting to build some homes again in Enid,” he said.
There are other housing projects in various stages of planning or construction. Waukomis developer Gene Anderson has dozens of homes planned at Cleveland and Chestnut for his Stonebridge Village project.
Anderson said there haven’t been any hiccups since his overall plan was approved by city officials.
“It’s coming along pretty good,” he said.
In the meantime, his company is doing dirt work for both the residential lots and a commercial district that will sit on the northwest corner of the intersection. Dirt work should be completed by mid-May, which is when utility infrastructure and street construction is scheduled to begin.
A new neighborhood of lower-cost, single-family homes still are in the planning stages. The Carland Group plans on constructing Forest Ridge Heights in the Brookside area of Enid. There could be several dozen homes built there.
Carland Group member Chuck Cook said he still is waiting on approval of tax credits that will help construct the $7 million development. They should know in May whether they will get the award.
“The tax credit applications have been very competitive as of late, but we feel we have positioned ourselves to have an adequate shot this cycle,” Cook said.
Earlier this week, the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission approved the creation of lots at the corner of Purdue and Oakwood. Ritchie, who spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony a day after that vote, criticized two MAPC commissioners who voted against it. A neighbor had complained that the homes would not be consistent with other large-acreage lots nearby, and that the houses along Oakwood would have backyards facing the road.
“I don’t know what those two ‘no’ votes are smoking, but they damn sure shouldn’t be opposing somebody who’s coming up here and putting his money in developing that subdivision to deliver low-cost homes,” Ritchie said.
The hardest thing to finance is a subdivision because a lender will want more than the collateral of that development, he said.
“You’ve got to have other assets you can pledge to be able to get the money to do a subdivision development,” said Ritchie. “And you’ve got a man who’s willing to come up here and invest probably well over a million bucks and you want to complain because you don’t want to see his rooftops? That’s asinine.”
Along with the single-family homes, Enid also is said to need apartments. Anderson expects to sell a parcel of land to Vector Properties for the construction of high-end apartments near Cleveland and Chestnut, and Kisling said there are other apartment complexes in the planning stages that have not yet been made public.
Other single-family projects in development in the past year include Skyview Estates, a 15-lot neighborhood east of the Pheasant Run Golf Community, and four lots in the Hearthstone Farms Addition between Oakwood and Garland south of Garriott.