The planning board is expected to consider a cluster development of 13 single-family homes – the first major housing development of its kind in several years – at its Dec. 12 meeting.
The 18.9-acre wooded site is on the west end of Major Potter Road and is located between Eagle Run to the west and high-voltage transmission lines to the east. According to plans filed with the Planning Department, zoning regulations indicate 15 homes could be built on the property. However, developers Major Potter Associates, LLC, have reduced the request and are looking for approval to cluster the homes to enable more than nine acres of woodlands and wetlands to be saved as open space.
“There is some great land for conservation,” said Dennis DiPrete, whose firm, DiPrete Engineering, is designing the project. Farmed at one time, there are stonewalls on the property. Also, it would appear the site would be easily accessible to the city-owned Daley Farm, a 63-acre open space, by way of the electrical transmission right-of-way, and extend the existing woodland trail system.
City Planner William DePasquale said the department would investigate the possibility of connecting the open spaces, which he called “very important.”
The proposal calls for a cul de sac, with a turnaround at the end, with houses on both sides of the road. Sites would have from 80 to 244 feet of frontage and be situated on sites ranging from 23,500 to 32,000 square feet. By regulation, properties must be at least 23,500 to sustain a septic system. The Kent County Water Authority is in the process of reviewing the request to serve the development.
Houses would be in the range of 1,800 to 2,200 square feet.
According to the Planning Department, developers have reserved City Council chambers on Nov. 14 to outline the proposal and answer neighborhood questions. Reportedly, a letter will be going to area residents.
“That’s what Warwick wanted,” Douglas DeSimone of Major Potter Associates, LLC said yesterday. Assuming the development gets all the necessary approvals, DeSimone said he would hope to start construction on at least three houses in the late spring. The build out would proceed from there depending on sales.
He said the houses are designed for families and are “not designed for retirees.” They would be colonials with three bedrooms, 2.5 baths and two car garages.
He said they would be similar to homes the company is building in Scituate. He said the first phase of that 36-house development has just been completed and that houses are selling in the $300,000-plus range.
DeSimone praised Washington Trust for working closely with the company.
Ward 9 Councilman Steve Merolla said yesterday that he prefers the proposed development to other plans to develop subsidized housing and condominiums on the property. He also likes the proposal to set aside more than half the site as open space.
He said “it would be very attractive having houses in there,” although he wants to hear neighborhood concerns.
He expects the condition of Major Potter Road to be an issue, especially if construction equipment is coming in and out of the area and possibly causing further deterioration to the road.
He said there is talk of the city “resurfacing a good portion of the road.”
New construction is real news in this economy. A development of this size has not been seen since 2007, if not earlier. The last multi-home development to gain city approval is that being built on Julian Road, off Church Avenue, by Sturbridge Home Builders. Developer Hugh Fisher is building nine homes on the 4.8-acre Julian Road property. His company is also in the process of building 23 condominium units in five buildings on West Shore Road in the Hoxsie section of the city.
DePasquale said there are encouraging signs of development in the residential sector and building in the hospitality, retail and office sectors. He said he is also getting inquiries about multi-family developments.
As for single-family homes, DePasquale noted that Warwick has lost about 450 houses to airport expansion and even though there has been extensive build-out of single-family homes, the city remains attractive to development. He also said there is increased interest in redevelopment in some of the city’s villages.
He doesn’t recall a time within the last five years where there have been so many inquiries. He called it “very exciting,” especially because it is so diverse.