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North Huntingdon 'villa-style' housing plan could get final OK

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

The final group of new homes being proposed for the Willow Estates plan in North Huntingdon will be aimed at buyers who want to do less yard work and climb fewer stairs, according to the developer.

“In the past several years, we've seen greater interest in what we are calling villa-style homes,” said Frederick Crack, owner of Willow Glenn Development, who is seeking approval to build 30 of the single-family attached homes.

“The buyers for this type of home are generally baby boomers and so-called empty nesters who don't need large back or front yards and want most of their living space on a single floor,” he said.

Larger versions of the homes are one and a half stories and dubbed grand villas, said Crack, whose company has developed about 400 homes in the township's Willow Glenn, Willow Heights and Willow Estates plans during the past decade.

The villas, which will range between 1,700 and 1,850 square feet on a roughly quarter-acre lots, are expected to be priced between $260,000 to $280,000.

James Eichenlaub, executive director of the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh, said there is “a definite niche” for the type of homes Willow Glenn is proposing.

“In other parts of the country, they call them 50-plus or active-adult housing,” he said. “And research indicates that they are increasingly popular among people who are looking to downsize and buy something that they envision will be the last home they will purchase.”

Crack said villas also are an option for buyers who do not want or need a large, single-family home but are not necessarily interested in town houses, which typically are narrow duplexes between two and a half and three stories tall.

Andrew Blenko, the township's planning director, said previous site plans for the homes being proposed for Willow Estates, which will grow to 188 homes if the final phase is approved and completed, need to be resubmitted to more accurately reflect the current contours of the land.

“A lot of earth was moved during construction of the other homes in the plan, so the developer needs to do a survey of the property and submit a revised site plan,” Blenko said. “I'd consider these relatively minor adjustments that have to be made.”

Crack said the revisions likely will be submitted to the township in time for the March planning commission meeting, during which a vote could be taken on whether to recommend that township's commissioners grant final approve for the project.

Lines for sanitary and storm-water sewers already have been completed for the project, Crack said. If the commissioners give the OK, the first several homes could be completed by the fall.

While the construction of new homes requires the loss of trees and other vegetation, Willow Glenn has tried to avoid “flattening hills and valleys” in the three plans it has developed, Crack said.

“We could have built a lot more homes, but the reality is that people love their green space,” he said. “So we've tried to follow the contours of the land to preserve as much green space as possible and create lots with wooded areas behind them and plenty of areas where the vegetation has been untouched.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626 or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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