Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Tonganoxie development to target empty-nesters

May 7, 2003

Greg Ward was pleased when his 27 acres of land were annexed into northwest Tonganoxie at last week's city council meeting.

But if Ward's intentions come through, the development won't feel like an urban subdivision.

Ward, who with his wife, Karen, has lived on the property since 1989, hopes to develop The Villas at Timber Hill Farms -- maintenance-provided country villas bordered to the south and east by Smiley and Hatchell roads.

"The thing I really wanted to put into this development is that this is still a country, rural setting," Ward said. "We're really going to build on that idea. I think that's a huge draw."

A five-acre fishing lake already exists on the property. That will be dressed up with a walkway around it and nature walks that will run throughout a hillside on the property.

Other plans include a community center and tennis courts. An equestrian center on privately owned land adjacent to acreage can be used by Timber Hill residents.

"Instead of a park and some sidewalks, we want this to be a place where people can live and not just exist," said Ward, who with his wife owns Ward Realty Development Company in Lawrence.

The project actually has been about 10 years in the making. Ward, who was on the Tonganoxie Planning Commission during the 1990s, has studied various developments in Lawrence and the Kansas City metro area. He also developed a log home community in Breckenridge, Colo.

"It was that project that helped me develop what I wanted to do here," Ward said.

And in the last year, Ward said he has spent much time with intensive market research.

Each villa will have two 1,200-square-foot living quarters, each with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen. A covered patio also is in the floor plan and basements are available at the buyer's request.

Ward said a storm shelter would be available in villas without basements.

Instead of two driveways side by side, one will come out on one street and the other on the perpendicular road.

The base price for the villas will be $129,900.

Plans call for the homes, styled like French country villas, to have stucco fronts with some stone exterior and vaulted ceilings. And the homes will be geared primarily toward empty-nesters.

"As our society gets older it's been fascinating to look at that trend and see what the baby boomers do to each stage of the economy," Ward said.

Although an agreement with the city of Bonner Springs for additional water for Tonganoxie and nearby water districts looks to be finalized soon, the city still is seeking an agreeable bid for its wastewater treatment facility.

With that in mind, Ward has been cautious in moving the project along.

"I think I've been kind of moving slowly making sure all of those issues are taken care of," Ward said.

With the lake nearby, Ward plans to use some water from that source for a lawn irrigation system.

Maintenance will be provided, as will professional landscaping and lawn mowing through a homeowners' association.

If the city approves rezoning and resolves other variables such as the water issue and the wastewater plant, Ward would like to begin the project this summer, but it likely will be a slow process.

In the next two years, Ward will have about 15 villas built. He said the market is strong for the empty-nest population, but he wants to evaluate the demand in a city where housing construction has been overwhelming in recent years.

"We want to listen to the buyers and really provide a product that really meets their needs," Ward said.

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