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Posted: Tuesday, January 29th 2013 at 2:16pm

Development of 100-lot Lula subdivision stalls out again

By Rob Moore Editor
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Waterford Glen subdivision in Lula still is in limbo as investors attempt to buy it from the bank and continue to develop 106 lots. (Photo/Rob Moore)
LULA – More than two months after Lula officials heard that a 106-lot subdivision in the city could begin building again soon, that anticipated action still has not happened.

On Monday, the Lula City Council again heard from Alex Powell, representing investor Jim Walters who is in the process of purchasing Waterford Glen from the bank.

In November, Powell told the council closing on the property would occur in 20 or 25 days.

“After tomorrow, we’re 15 days from closing,” Powell told the council Monday night.

At Monday’s meeting, there was a request for consideration from Powell for a proposed square footage reduction on homes in the subdivision.

“We’ve actually got some builders lined up,” Powell said. “Obviously, the bank is ready to do something one way or the other.”

Mayor Milton Turner told Powell the council couldn’t reach a decision Monday night because some council members had not seen Powell’s request, and that some required information had not been received by the city.

“You say you’re writing on behalf of Jim Walters and his partner, but we have nothing – we have not seen the principal here, we have no documents from Mr. Walters saying you can represent him …,” Turner told Powell.

Powell and City Manager Dennis Bergin went back and forth about whether Powell had been told a letter of authorization was required.

“The council’s concern is we thought the deal went dead in December, but the good news is it’s back on the table,” Bergin said. “I think for all of us, though, we want to make sure there are some assurances being made that the owners will be held accountable for it.”

Councilman Mordecai Wilson asked what Powell was requesting.

“Basically, this subdivision is 1,600-square-foot homes,” Turner said. “That’s the minimum. He’s asking to move some of that to 1,400 square feet, and 35 percent of them to be built at 1,200.”

Powell explained the investors’ rationale.

“It’s not that somebody wants to come in there and build a bunch of houses at 1,400 square feet, because the bigger house they build, the more money they’re going to make,” Powell said. “It’s really finding that sweet spot of where the market is, where those people are.”

Powell said if a builder wants 10 lots and has a customer that has a plan for a 1,370-square-foot home, “we don’t want to eliminate the possibility of selling one or two of those lots at that place, because again, this isn’t 30 lots, it’s 106 lots – and the bank’s not going to divide it up. It’s kind of an all or none with them.”

Powell stressed no one wants to build a subdivision that’s all at the minimum square footage, but added flexibility in size is needed to make the development feasible.

Councilman Norm Harrop asked about how a square-footage reduction would affect the owners of the subdivision’s original homes.

“Is this going to be fair to the people who actually bought in there knowing they were buying into a subdivision with a minimum of 1,600?” Turner asked.
Powell said there are seven or eight houses in the subdivision, out of 106 lots.

“If a house is 1,650 and you have a house next to it that’s 1,475, the eye is not going to see that difference,” Powell said. “If they’re 600 square feet different then that’s one thing, but they’re not.”

“I could not go with 1,200 square feet,” said Councilman Larry Shuler. “I don’t see that the council should even take a stand on this until we know for sure that y’all are going to buy this because it’s taking up the council’s time, it’s taking up your time ….”

There also was discussion of $92,000 in performance bonds the city will require from the subdivision owner for streets and sidewalks.

Turner said the council will address the requests in its February work session, with action expected at its February council meeting.

Waterford Glen subdivision is located off Railroad Avenue and currently has about 10 single-family homes.
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