Briarknoll developer says decade-long delay has seen buyers lose interest in two-story units
The Village of Saukville Plan Commission got a lesson last week in one of the pillars of the real estate trade — timing is everything.
In 2005, Hillcrest Builders proposed a nine-building duplex condominium project on Briarknoll Court. The 18-unit Briarknoll Condominiums development was platted on a 4.9-acre parcel a year later.
A short time later, the local real estate market tanked.
“It went to sleep for awhile, but it is exciting to see it back,” Marilyn Haroldson, the village’s director of economic development and planning, told the commission.
Oyvind Solvang of Hillcrest Builders appeared with revised plans for the development which he said reflect the changes the market has seen in the past decade. The revised plan is being presented in conjunction with Tillmann Properties.
“When this project was proposed, the market was strong for condominiums,” Solvang said.
“Condo buyers today are empty-nesters and retirees rather than young professionals. The bi-level design we originally proposed was not an issue for younger buyers, but the older buyer wants everything on one level.”
According to the plans, the two or three-bedroom condos would be 1,400 or 1,500 square feet each.
Tweaking the design to accommodate ranch-style condos forced the developer to rethink the site plan.
One of those changes could be placing the buildings closer than the 25-foot setback zoning requirements dictate.
“It is a tight site,” Solvang said, noting that converting the buildings to ranch structures in a fanned-out layout could mean they might be as close as 12 feet apart. A wetlands covers one side of the parcel, making it difficult to rearrange the layout.
Approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals would be needed for that plan to advance.
Haroldson said before a variance could be granted, issues such as drainage, public safety and privacy would have to be taken into consideration.
Solvang said a variance may be sought on another practical issue. He said the developer feels the village’s requirement that building facades feature at least 50% masonry would result in additional costs.
“The 50% is a very costly requirement in today’s market. We are trying to make these units available in the low-$200,000s, but it would be tough to meet that price point with the excessive stone,” Solvang said.
He said the developer said exterior facades with 20% stonework would be more appropriate for the market.
If officials want an idea of the quality of work the development envisions, Solvang suggested they visit the Misty Ridge project Hillcrest Builders recently completed in Port Washington.
Because the development is already platted, Haroldson said the developer would need to decide whether to seek the needed variances to proceed with the project as now proposed or to submit new plans that could incorporate the changes.
In addition, she said the developer should touch base with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to confirm that drainage plans are still acceptable.
According to market studies, about half of the proposed units would be purchased by existing Saukville residents.
If approvals go through without significant delays, the first model homes are expected to be completed next summer.