A private subdivision could fill out 20 acres of a panhandle on Amherst’s northern border with Lorain, bringing 109 new homes in the next three years.
TJCO and developer Shaun Brady want to build 45 lots by the end of this year, extending Hollstein Drive north of the Mercy Health and Recreation Center, with the rest of the single-family houses finished by Summer 2019.
Called The Reserve at Beaver Creek, the community would be nestled on three sides by Lorain County Metro Parks land.
Brady said he hopes to attract “active adults” that want access to wooded areas, walking and biking trails, the nearby fitness center, and shopping centers.
Metro Parks director Jim Ziemnik said TJCO donated the land to his agency years ago, allowing the rec center to be built.
He mapped out how Hollstein Reservation bike trails would still wend through the subdivision, terminating at an overlook of Beaver Creek.
Since 2005, TJCO has been unsuccessfully marketing the land for commercial development instead of residential.
“We have had some interest, none of it commercial. As you know, the commercial market is changing very fast with the advent of Amazon and things like that,” Brady said.
He feels developing the back acreage with homes will generate a draw for commercial expansion along Cooper Foster Park Road.
It’s worth mentioning that the frontage was vetted more than a decade ago for a potential Wal-Mart. The retail giant opted instead to build further east where Planet Fitness is today and where Sears Hardware operated previously — but the plan was rejected by voters. Wal-Mart eventually opened at Lighthouse Village farther up Rt. 58.
The Reserve at Beaver Creek wouldn’t have nearly the same impact as a big box retail footprint, but Brady is still asking for the property to be rezoned as a planned development district.
The distinction would allow TJCO to sidestep some of the normal regulations on subdivisions — housing density, for example — but would also give Amherst officials more control over development, according to assistant law director Frank Carlson.
The housing plan drew the endorsement of city council candidate Matt Nahorn, whose family owns property adjacent to the proposed subdivision and maintains it as a conservation area.
Nahorn studied environmental science at Oberlin College and works with the Beaver Creek Watershed Protection Group. He asked to be involved in planning storm water discharge from The Reserve.
Before giving their blessing, planning commission members questioned Brady about a number of details:
• It will be an “architecturally controlled environment,” meaning only a handful of blueprints will be offered to homebuyers at The Reserve.
• All will be single-family houses with two-car garages. Some will have options for full basements.
• Hollstein Drive will end in a cul-de-sac. From there, private roads will be used, making the subdivision “a gated community without the gates,” Brady said.
• Repairs will be the responsibility of a homeowner association, not the city. The cost will be part of membership fees.
• Amherst will provide public water and sewer utilities.
The final say on rezoning and site plan approval will now go to Amherst city council. No date has been set for the proposal to be discussed in committee.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.