New Real Estate Realities: The New Constructionists

The suburban subdivision story is as old as the Oklahoma Land Run: Where there is open acreage, there will be people eager to fill it with new homes. Parcels of farmland or lopped-off hilltops are combined into enormous tracts by homebuilding companies so that new homes can spring up a dozen at a time around spanking-new streets lined with tiny young trees. Such is the case with Arcadia, a giant “master planned community” in process in Alexandria. More than a decade in the making, Arcadia will eventually contain some 1,000 single-family homes, condos, and townhouses spread over 385 acres. Though you can’t yet find the development on a map—there are more than two dozen homes in some phase of construction. (Prices start in the $230,000 range and go up from there.)

Photograph by Rick Lohre

Arcadia was originally conceived in the early 2000s and formally initiated in 2006, but the 2008 financial crisis put construction on hold until early this year. Another snafu came in the form of limited utility infrastructure in hilly Alexandria, which until recently had fancied itself a quiet little Campbell County enclave situated well off the beaten interstate highway path. Co-developers at Drees Homes and Fischer Homes had to clear the densely wooded hilltops, create the sewage system from scratch, and pave new access roads before they could build their model homes. Now that Arcadia’s construction has begun in earnest, a 10-year plan includes a fitness center, clubhouse, swimming pool, and walking paths—all of which must wait until the community achieves a critical mass of buy-ins. The mega development will add thousands of new people to a modest population of fewer than 9,000 and, for better or worse, remake this tiny town by the Licking River.

West Chester Township and Liberty Township were once known for fields and farmhouses. They now make up the Cincinnati-Dayton metroplex. From 1990 to 2010, Liberty Township’s population surged almost 400 percent from fewer than 10,000 people to more than 37,000. That’s a lot of new homes (and soccer leagues), and the area is still expanding: Administrators project that the population will exceed 72,000 by 2035.

“Harrison is on fire right now,” says Rich Webber, sales manager/vice president of Sibcy Cline Western Hills. “It’s far out there but still close enough to downtown. And there are wide-open spaces.” But unlike some of Cincinnati’s other outlying communities, the Harrison market is all about empty-nester condos.

Want more New Real Estate Realities? The First-Time Buyer, The Luxury Renters, The Comeback, The Can-Do Urban Condo, The Teardown

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