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Noblesville tries change of pace in housing styles

Noblesville is trying out a new look in home building.

In an effort to increase the variety of houses for sale, the city is steering developers away from single-family homes on large lots toward “villas” and duplexes with higher density and less property maintenance.

The goal is to reduce the number of sprawling suburban-type houses that make up 77 percent of the homes in Noblesville while also building fewer apartment buildings, which comprise 17 percent of living units.

A study by the Indianapolis real estate consulting firm Greenstreet calls construction of the types of homes the “missing middle.”

“Namely two-unit structures, courtyard apartments, bungalow courts, townhouses, multiplex, and live/work units,” according to the analysis conducted for Noblesville.

The first of those homes was approved by the City Council last week. Miller’s Walk will include 83 villa-style, side-by-side homes on 60 acres east of Ind. 37 near Pleasant Street.

“These are for people who maybe want to get out of their single family homes but want to stay in Noblesville,” said Noblesville Planning Director Sarah Reed. “It’s also for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time mowing their lawns and would rather go on vacation.”

Councilman Brian Ayre said the new subdivision offers diversity in housing styles but not in cost.

“The price range is about the same as the average so there isn’t a lot of change there,” Ayre said.

The average home price is Noblesville is about $226,000, and the cost of a new home is about $300,000. That’s a problem, Ayre said.

“There is a need for affordable housing, but I don’t know how to accomplish it,” said Ayre, a real estate agent for 35 years.  He said that land and construction costs have skyrocketed since the burst of the housing bubble in 2007, making homes more expensive.

“There is also a shortage of available homes,” Ayre said. “In 2007 there were about 700 homes on the market, now there are 300.”

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