Johnson County is set to get its first major gated housing development, and The Legends of Indiana golf course-coowned by former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight-should reap a much-needed financial boost.
Construction on the $35 million project on 35 acres in Franklin is set to begin this spring. The project, consisting of 144 homes and condominiums, will be constructed between the front nine and the back nine of The Legends' Jim Fasiodesigned championship course.
There will be 38 single-family homes ranging from $285,000 to $450,000 and 106 condominiums ranging from $150,000 to $225,000. Greenwood-based Projects Plus will be the project's developer, with Indianapolis-based Hanson and Horn constructing the homes and Greenwood-based Premiere Builders building the condominiums.
"What this represents are high-end homes and nice, empty-nester condominiums, which are both needed in this area," said Ted Bishop, co-owner and director of golf at The Legends. "We think this is a great marriage for our golf course. It will preserve the integrity of the area and could provide a substantial membership foundation for our club."
The Legends got an undisclosed sum of money from Projects Plus principals for the land, but Bishop said the bigger benefit will be the membership boost.
The housing project has been named Somerset at the Legends and the condominium development is Heather Glen at the Legends. The homes will be either brick or stone and have three-car garages and basements. All housing lots will have a fairway view, and builders of the houses and condominiums have agreed to give buyers free one-year memberships to The Legends.
Both projects will be within the gated community, and Bishop thinks that will be a major selling point. While the concept of gated communities has taken off in the last decade both across the country and in northern Marion and Hamilton counties, south-side real estate agents were aware of only one small gated community in Johnson County.
"I think there's a tremendous demand down here for the quiet lifestyle and security of living in a gated community," Bishop said. "We haven't done any marketing so far and already we've gotten a tremendous response from people."
Bishop scoffs at the notion the development's location in the southern reaches of Johnson County will detract from sales.
"We're 22 minutes from downtown, 12 minutes from Greenwood Park Mall, and 25 minutes from the airport," Bishop said. "We think the attractiveness of being associated with The Legends speaks for itself."
Mike Watkins, of Greenwood-based Mike Watkins Real Estate Group, said Johnson County developments have had problems in the past drawing people outside the immediate area, but he agrees the gated concept is one whose time has come on the south side.
"I would hope there's demand, but other high-end developments in the area have been slow to go," Watkins said. "Franklin is a great city and great community, but some people think it's too far from downtown Indianapolis. I think the idea of a gated community is a niche and is very attractive in this area."
Jeanne Tomlin, owner of Tomlin Realtors Inc., doesn't think pricing will be a problem.
"$300,000 is not expensive in Johnson County anymore," said Tomlin, who sells homes on the south and north sides. "Gradually, the demand for higher-end homes in Johnson County is increasing."
While real estate agents and developers might disagree on the area's attractiveness to home buyers, few argue the quality of the golf course. The Legends, which was constructed in 1992 by an Indiana investment consisting of Bishop, Knight and a handful of others, recently earned a four-star rating from Golf Digest magazine. The Legends features a 27-hole championship course, an 18-hole par three course, and a junior golfers training center and academy. It's also situated adjacent to the state's PGA office.
"The golf course is a great facility, no question, one of the tops in the state," said Mike David, executive director of the Indiana Golf Association and the Indiana Section of the PGA.
Golf courses in recent years, especially private and semiprivate courses, David said, have tried to boost revenue and membership by developing adjacent land.
"It hopefully brings in a long-term, sustaining membership base," he said.
The Legends attempted to go private, but was forced to remain semiprivate because not enough memberships could be sold. The Legends has 170 dues-paying members, Bishop said, with a goal of 250.