ELKHART — Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County is preparing to undertake its biggest project ever in the city of Elkhart.
On Thursday night, Feb. 21, representatives of Habitat met with neighbors at the Beardsley Elementary library and provided details about plans to construct nine homes on a lot southeast of the Conn Avenue and Erwin Street intersection north of East Beardsley Avenue.
The property encompasses a large parking lot and was once owned by Conn Instruments and more recently by Coachmen Industries, said Tom McArthur, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County Inc.
The size of the project in Elkhart County is second only to a 33-house project in Goshen about 12 years ago, he said.
“This is definitely the biggest concentrated effort in the city of Elkhart,” McArthur said.
Construction will begin next month and will likely be completed by the end of the year.
Habitat was aided with the plan by a $100,000 grant through Habitat International that covered the expenses of buying the land, removing the asphalt and installing water and sewer lines, McArthur said.
“We’re going to be putting in nearly $1 million worth of real estate” into the neighborhood, he said.
The site is adjacent to the school and close to stores, parks and a bus route, he said.
“We love the location. It’s one of the best locations we can think of,” he said.
The development will include three- and four-bedroom homes and each will be constructed with a crawl space. The homes won’t include garages, but a parking pad designed for future construction of a garage will be included.
About 20 people attended the meeting and a few peppered McArthur with questions about the impact on the neighborhood, but even those who expressed concern agreed the project sounded beneficial.
One of the questions involved the name of the project, Beardsley Bulldog Crossing. More than one person pointed out that there is already a place in town known as Bulldog Crossing.
McArthur said after the meeting that the issue won’t be a factor because the development won’t include any kind of entrance sign. The name, he said, is more for project purposes.
Habitat will host a ground breaking ceremony on March 6. Foundations for the first two homes will be constructed soon afterward.
Some neighbors complained about the removal of trees. McArthur admitted the removal of a large pine tree was a mistake. He also said they are working with the city forester to plan for future plantings.
Among those attending were city leaders, including Mayor Dick Moore who expressed support for the project.
He commended Habitat on their past work in Elkhart, adding “From what we’ve seen before in Elkhart, it’s done right.”
Moore said the city would work with Habitat to make sure all of the sidewalks that are in disrepair in the project area are replaced.
A second phase of construction to the west of the nine future homes could happen next year.
Habitat hopes to acquire a tract of land where the Bergerson Screw Products company had been located.
McArthur said the city of Elkhart was helpful in providing environmental tests for both sites and will help take care of some minor contamination on the second site.
“The city has been more than helpful in trying to help us get land that is clean for families to be building houses on,” he said.
View Habitat for Humanity development in Elkhart in a larger map