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County's vacant lots expected to fill up soon

Published: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
A sidewalk ends at the unruly grass and weeds of several vacant lots nestled between two homes in the Riverbend subdivision in Genoa. Of the three subdivisions in the city, Riverbend has the most vacant lots. Genoa has about 300 total vacant lots.

SYCAMORE – Nate Amidon detects a renewed interest in new construction homes in the Reston Ponds subdivision in Sycamore.

The sales director for ShoDeen Homes attended the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday with members of the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce, city government and other public figures. The event commemorated the first of many steps to finishing Reston Ponds, which has 178 vacant home sites. 

“Our research has suggested there is a need for new housing there,” Amidon said. 

The subdivision contains just a fraction of the 1,500 planned, but so far vacant, home sites in DeKalb County.

City and village officials have said the Great Recession – followed by the housing market bubble bursting – in the late 2000s affected new home development. But with the improving housing market, some of these lots won’t be vacant for much longer, authorities said.

Sycamore can expect to finish the year with 20 to 25 homes being built, Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said.

The city has more than 800 lots vacant and almost all of them are in the newer subdivisions of the city, he said. The development of Reston Ponds, Parkside Estates, North Grove Crossing and Sycamore Creek slowed to a crawl in 2008 but will have homes built in them this year. 

“Many of the subdivisions from that period of time are pretty much finished out,” Gregory said. 

Both Genoa and DeKalb have about 300 vacant lots. DeKalb Principal Planner Derek Hiland said many of the vacant lots are located in the Bridges of Rivermist, Devonaire Farms and The Knolls subdivisions.

The older sections of Genoa tend to have the most vacant lots, said Joe Misurelli, the city’s part-time administrative consultant for development, planning and zoning. Three subdivisions that also have vacant lots include Riverbend, Derby Estates and Oak Creek. The lots in those subdivisions are platted – or mapped to scale – but are not being developed.

Some of the vacant lots can be mistaken for a different kind of space. 

“There are lots that are technically vacant lots that if you drove by looks like someone’s backyard,” Misurelli said.

He doesn’t find it useful to inventory the city’s vacant lots because people may or may not want to develop the lots, and it’s hard to know who wants to develop one until they notify the city. Each year, the city typically issues two to three permits for homes; it has issued six new permits since 2008, Misurelli said.

Kingston has 16 lots that haven’t been developed. Kingston Village Treasurer Taunya Fischer, who tracks the lots, said in an email that five of the lots are in subdivisions that have never been finished because of the slow housing market. Most of them are single-family homes. 

“The other 11 lots are in the original part of town and again, they may be vacant for the same housing slowdown reason,” she said.

Sandwich has 117 lots that are vacant. About 72 of them belong to the city’s Fairwinds subdivision, Sandwich Mayor Rick Olson wrote in an email. 

With the increased demand for homes at Reston Ponds, Amidon said the inventory has went down. Sales haven’t begun for ShoDeen Homes, but the anticipated level of demand is a good sign.

“It’s the best we’ve seen in years,” he said. 

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