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Development plans underway for The Preserve

Seventy-one acres of housing planned south of North Bend Elementary
The Preserve, as seen from North Bend Elementary, during summer 2018. The 71.51-acre parcel in North Liberty is to be subdivided into 123 single-family, duplex and multi-family lots, with grading to begin this year. (photo by Cale Stelken)

NORTH LIBERTY– The Preserve is on the path to join North Liberty’s rapid expansion in housing.
The 71.51 acres of farm ground resides south of North Bend Elementary, at the southeast corner of St. Andrews Drive and Kansas Avenue. Plans are to subdivide the parcel into 123 single-family, duplex and multi-family lots sized to meet requirements of the residential zoning. This will have higher density at the intersection and transition to lower density with single-family properties to the east abutting Centennial Park. Six blocks of housing will make up the bulk of the development, with several options of affordability throughout. Wet-bottom retention basins will be located at the northwest and southwest corners of the development.
Mayor Terry Donahue assessed the financial involvement of the development as nearing $4 million, with a minimum taxable valuation at $14 million, not including the proposed condo units to the west, based on an average home price of $200,000. “So you can see why I backed this project terribly,” Donahue stressed. “It’s going to help the financial aspect of the city and its growth.”
The road to approving the plat wasn’t without its share of bumps, with Counselor Jim Sayre questioning what he described as “making micro decisions” as opposed to broader city planning, and whether the city is meeting the need for low-income housing.
Counselor Annie Pollock agreed, wishing to delay discussion until after a Planning and Zoning meeting.
“This is an unusual circumstance where we’ve got a development that’s coming in where the road’s not ready,” Counselor Chris Hoffman remarked in regards to Kansas Avenue and its upcoming roundabout with St. Andrews Drive. However, he summarized the development plan as consistent with his vision for the area, noting its close proximity to Centennial Park and North Bend Elementary.
Counselor Sarah Madsen questioned the lack of information on greenspace, ultimately leading to the item being tabled. However, after reviewing documentation and being informed of the development process, the council members eventually came to a mutual agreement and unanimously passed the plat agreement.
“We think it’s a great location, a great product and we love the mix that we worked out with staff as far as all the different products,” Duane Musser, Land Acquisition and Development Coordinator for Watts Group Development, Inc., told the city council. “The 80-foot lots backing up to your park, we think those are no-brainers; those will be some really nice homes. The 70-foot lots gives us an opportunity to get some more price point homes, and then we believe that the zero-lot duplex market is very hot in every community right now,” he remarked. “You can not purchase a lot to build one on… A new unit doesn’t stay on the market very long before it’s sold.”
While some concepts for multifamily have been worked on, the final product won’t be certain until grading and engineering is finished. Musser said grading of the parcel will begin following removal of crops, marking The Preserve’s final harvest. Construction of the first two phases will take place over the winter and into next summer, with the hopes of getting foundations in the ground in fall 2019. If all goes to plan, homes will be available for sale as early as spring or summer 2020.