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Reader Question: Do You Really Want Houses Spread Across the Open Space on Highway 40

I received an email from a reader regarding a post from yesterday on the new proposed development south of Home Depot. He asked, “I think the idea of a whole bunch of houses out on the open space is horrible. Do you really think that is a good idea?”

I do think it is an alternative and the one the owner is currently entitled to by law. I think the first question is what we as citizens want for our community. That could be commercial growth in pockets around the Basin. That could also be no growth (probably not possible). It could be somewhere in between.

What I will say about residential development on this specific 450 acres is that there is a reason the owner wants to do something different than build houses. Could it be out of the goodness of the owner’s heart, who may want to ensure the best for the other residents of the Basin? Maybe. Could it be that they’d make more money by having a commercial component? Probably. Is it that it’s not economically viable as residential land? HMMM.

Let’s consider that last one. If the land owner went with their existing rights, they could build about 22 homes on the 455 acres. That’s 1 home per 20 acres. Now, what do you need to build a sub division? I can think of at least three things. You need sewer run to each house. You need a system of roads. You need to run utilities to each house. Keep in mind that the houses are likely to be spread out. This makes that infrastructure expensive.

To recoup your money, you’ll need to build expensive homes. But you’ll have to compete with Promontory, which is probably situated on superior land and still has lots available. You’ll also have to not price yourself out of the market. If you recall a few weeks ago, two local real estate professionals were on KPCW and said people were paying up to about $1.3 million on homes.

Is $28 million in home sales is enough to offset the expenses of building and marketing a subdivision? It seems right now the owner would rather take another course — one that includes commercial development. Would they even try to build homes there? Who knows (well the developer probably does).

If you don’t want development around the Basin, that’s the bet you are making by keeping it residential. You’re hoping that the economics don’t make any sense and that it will sit as open space for a while longer. That strategy doesn’t seem like a terrible gamble, in this instance, though.


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