HARKER HEIGHTS — A City Council zoning change Tuesday brought developers Chris Doose, Patrick Kern and Stacie Dishon one step closer to realizing their vision for a new, lifestyle-oriented brand of housing in Harker Heights.
As soon as 2016, townhomes, small businesses and green belts could dot the 20-acre landscape adjacent to Indian Trail, Clore Road and Lookout Ridge Boulevard. The land is now zoned for mixed-use development, and pending council approval of a concept plan and plat, land-clearing could begin this summer, Doose said.
Bluewater Assets and J-Cat Development are partnering on the multimillion-dollar East Rim in the Heights development, Kern said.
Doose plans to build 105 townhomes and garden homes interspersed with green belts, along with business and office space geared toward local investment, he said. The homes will cost $150,000 to $200,000, with the more expensive homes overlooking a creek.
With this development, Doose wanted to split from the local trend of big houses, yards and streets, and facilitate a more condensed, walkable, urban-based lifestyle, he said. Residents and visitors will be able to walk on nature trails and 5-foot-wide tree-lined sidewalks to restaurants and a convenience store.
“We wanted to shake it up,” Doose said. “There’s a great number of us, like Millennials, that want this.”
East Rim has already garnered high interest from local retirees hoping to downsize, as well as younger Fort Hood soldiers from New York and New Jersey who find Doose’s concept familiar to the areas where they grew up, he said.
New kind of resident
To attract “talent,” such as the professionals who will help grow Seton Medical Center Harker Heights’ staff to 400 employees in the coming years, the city also needs amenities like walking paths, nice parks and farmers markets, said City Manager Steve Carpenter.
“There’s a lot of things that you do as a city to try to get people to live, work and shop over here, making something that’s nicer than your surrounding areas that attracts people,” Carpenter said. “A certain amount of the type of housing that Chris is talking about is needed. ... That’s a different type of housing that we’re not used to seeing.”
Environmental and infrastructural sustainability factored into Doose’s development plans, he said.
Rather than building on the outskirts of Heights, Doose chose to build on interior city land, partly because of the prevalence of roads and water and sewer lines in the area, he said. He also plans to plant native-Texas trees on the development’s green belts.
Six-year Heights resident Jeff Starnes said he liked the idea of incorporating parkland in housing developments. “Some of this needs to stay here,” Starnes said.
After preparing the land, Doose will aim to sell lots to local builders, whom Doose expects to begin construction later this year.
Peter Loecken, a 51-year Heights resident, said he thinks construction could have drawbacks.
“That opens up construction (jobs), but once (the employees are) finished, they’re done,” Loecken said. “It won’t bring in a store that more than 100 people will work at.”
But Doose said one of the advantages of his development was that it didn’t lend itself to big-box tenants, helping grow local businesses and wallets. “We’re going to have a boutique-sized shopping center,” Doose said. “The money will stay here.”
Mom-and-pop shops will line the business strip, possibly including a pizza restaurant, coffee shop and convenience store, said Doose, adding 400- to 500-square-foot executive offices will go above.
The East Rim, which will sit at 329 Indian Trail, will feature two entrances — one on Clore Road and one on Indian Trail. The Indian Trail driveway will parallel the side of Boulders, a rock-climbing business.
“Yes, it’ll put traffic on this road, but that’s OK,” said Richard Kahabka, Boulders general manager. “It’s more exposure for us. Any development is beneficial for us.”
The presence of both more residents and businesses should help Boulders, Kahabka said.
Next to Boulders is Texas Tumblers, a gymnastics facility. Business has been good there, but more development won’t hurt, said Allison Hardman, program director.
“More development will be great for our business,” Hardman said. “Once you get past the Target and the movie theater, people kind of stop there and don’t really realize we’re out here.”