Tuesday, February 26, 2008

St. John, S'ville developments to draw thousands

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Two major developments in Tri-Town are expected to draw thousands of new residents over the next decade.

With 1,400 housing units on 720 acres, The Gates of St. John will bring about 4,200 people to St. John over the 10-year buildout, Town Manager Steve Kil said.

"This one development would account for half of the 2000 (St. John) population," he said.

The Gates, which is not a gated community, is divided into a dozen communities, each with a different name, such as Autumn Gate and Magnolia Gate. The development is bordered by 101st Avenue on the north, Cline Avenue on the east, U.S. 231 on the south and Parrish Avenue on the west.

For planning purposes, the development is divided into units, or phases. Each of the approximately 22 phases is approved separately. About 60 percent of The Gates is through the platting process, but none of the phases is built out yet, Kil said.

"I think it's going pretty good, given the size of the development," he said.

The Gates includes more than just houses.

Crown Point Christian School opened inside The Gates in January 2007. Construction on a water tower in The Gates is about 70 percent complete and should be operating by the spring. Construction is yet to begin on an assisted living facility, fire station and a well and water treatment facility, Kil said.

A retail component for the development is in the planning stages. It's a small part of the project, set to encompass about 20 acres, Kil said.

"It's going to be a small, downtown type of development," he said.

Another major undertaking is in the works in neighboring Schererville.

The Preserve is a 2,300-unit community on 500-plus acres of land, to be built off 91st Avenue and Burr Street.

"It's going to be a really exciting new community," said Todd Olthof, of Olthof Homes, developer of The Preserve.

Site development is at a standstill until Schererville moves forward on a $6 million sewer interceptor project. The town is acquiring the last needed easements for the project, which will provide excess capacity for customers in the southeast part of the town's service area.

Schererville is actively working on the new sewer, and those sewers are necessary to build the development, Olthof said.

Plans for The Preserve haven't changed since it was last presented to town officials, Olthof said.

The development will be a "master planned community" with parks and a commercial area.

It will be on farmland currently owned by the Luers family, which is known for its Christmas tree sales. The portion of the farm dedicated to growing and selling Christmas trees will be the last section developed.