‘Green’ community planned for Zionsville-WEB ONLY

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A local homebuilder is pressing forward with plans to build a “green” residential development in Zionsville, despite the troubled economy.

Kai Yu of Kai Yu Home Builders LLC is planning to build 22 custom, single-family homes priced between $500,000 and $1 million on nearly 18 acres of land along Turkey Foot Road, five miles north of downtown Zionsville.

The community, dubbed “Villa Francesca,” will include a variety of eco-friendly features designed to protect the environment and reduce homeowners’ energy costs.

Work on the project’s infrastructure and roadways could begin this summer. Home construction is slated to begin next spring. By that time, Yu said he’s hoping the economy will be on the rebound.

Nobody knows when the market [will hit] bottom,” he said. “We just think, based on experience, we’re going to bottom near the end of the year and then come back.”

The dearth of similar new-home construction projects might also play in the development’s favor, said Steve Peabody, who owns the land and also lives on the property. He is partner in the new community.

“By this time next year,” he said, “we think that the inventory of these particular types of properties will be depleted.”

The property has been tangled in red tape since Peabody purchased the land in 1997. Turkey Foot Road is in a flood plain. After much back-and-forth with town officials, Peabody agreed to elevate the road in front of the planned subdivision to raise it out of the floodway.

The project now has the necessary approvals and is moving forward. Six people have already made “soft offers” to purchase lots, which range in price from $150,000 to $200,000, Peabody said.

He’s expecting others to take an interest in the project because of its numerous green features.

An underground system of pipes – called a geothermal loop – will heat and cool homes by recycling water through a series of pumps. Likewise, homes will be built with a lightweight concrete-like substance made from recycled carpets and other fibers. The development is seeking the U.S. Green Building Program’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

Peabody said it makes good business sense to build eco-friendly properties thanks to tax incentives, abatements and smaller energy bills.

“Basically, it pays to go green,” he said. “The government really helps out these types of communities.”

But Landa Matthews, the managing broker of F.C. Tucker’s Zionsville office, questioned the value of creating an all-green neighborhood, especially when the concept is still new.

“He’s banking on everyone in there being a green house,” she said. “It’s a little risky, I would think especially in this day and age, to put all your eggs in one basket.”

Still, she called such a development “cutting-edge” and praised the property’s location near the Zionsville Golf Course and Turkey Foot Park.

Truly, he’s got a dynamite location,” she said. “That’s one of the things in real estate – we’re always saying location, location, location. He’s got that sewn up.”

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