New Subdivision Planned for Houston

After working for two years trying to find developers to build new subdivisions in Houston, Jack and Susan Elmore Warkentin decided to take the plunge and do it themselves. They formed the Warkentin Investment Group LLC, purchased 8.4 acres on Holder and Industrial drives, and Westridge Estates was born.

For Houston, the subdivision is one of three constructed in the last three years. Susan Warkentin, who until recently worked as a realtor, tracked the age of homes listed and sold for the last two years. The average listed home on city utilities and the average home sold in 2007 is 48.25 years old .

“It’s been obvious for some time there has been a need for affordable new homes in Houston for young couples and for those retiring from farming who would like to be closer to medical facilities,” said Susan Warkentin, who returned to her native Houston with her husband in 2005.

The Warkentins said this week that Westridge Estates will be completed in two phases, both adhering to the City of Houston’s subdivision regulations. Phase I will be on Holder Drive and comprised of eight homes around 1,500 square feet each with three bedrooms, two baths and a two-car garage. They say they hope to keep the price for Phase I at about $130,000 without sacrificing construction quality. They said each will be constructed to provide safety, low maintenance and as much as efficiency in heating and cooling as possible.

“Safety is very important to us when you are talking about selling homes to families with young children and the elderly who maybe don’t move as quickly as they would like,” Susan Warkentin said.

She is researching the idea of residential sprinkler systems that connect to the domestic water systems, as well as heat, fire and carbon monoxide alarms. Phase II will have some walk-out basements since the topography is conducive for this style.

The Warkentins say their purpose is to provide affordable homes. After talking to USDA Rural Development, they will follow guidelines that call for three inspections during construction. That will allow buyers to qualify for attractive financing from the agency -in addition to traditional mortgages.

Contractor for the project is Texas County Concrete and Construction Co. from the Success/Plato area. Plans call for two homes under construction at the same time by two crews. Engineering specifications will soon be finalized, and they will be presented to the Houston Planning and Zoning Commission and Houston City Council, which have both given tentative approval. Deed restrictions will protect the quality and value of the subdivision, the Warkentins say.

The subdivision news comes at time when other big construction projects are on the drawing board. Texas County’s new $10 million justice center is under construction, and the Texas County Memorial Hospital board of trustees has given the green light for a major expansion of the facility.

The Warkentins point to several economic indicators that have them sold on the area:

*Per capita income in the county continues to increase by about 4.1 percent a year.

*Bank deposits per capita have jumped from $6,200 in 1990 to $12,615 in 2004.

*The intersection of U.S. 63 and Highway 17 in Houston has a traffic count of 18,000.

*Sales tax revenue in Houston has increased for 16 quarters in a row, and the trend is expected to grow.

*This area is one of the counties in southern Missouri that is expecting double-digit growth over the next several decades as people continue to locate here for quality of life.

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