Article on New Urbanism Development in Avon

New Avon community to evoke feel of old-time neighborhoods

Co-developer hopes officials this week will give final approval to Village of Turner Trace.

December 11, 2002

AVON, Ind. -- Walking the cold, windswept expanse of his property, Darrell Brosius can envision everything: single-family homes, empty-nester townhouses, commercial offices and a shopping district that can be reached easily on foot.

A community called the Village of Turner Trace.

"This is about a place that will really feel like home," Brosius said.

The 82-acre site is at the northeast corner of Ind. 267 and County Road 150 South in Hendricks County. Brosius is developing it with partner Dan Muehlenbein, with the idea that it will be a "traditional neighborhood development."

Such developments -- patterned after a nationwide movement called new urbanism -- are catching on in central Indiana.

At Turner Trace, pedestrians will be given preference over automobiles when it comes to design. That means homes on small lots, built close to narrow streets and alleyways that provide access to rear-entrance garages.

In that regard, the development will be similar to the Village of West Clay, the premier example of new urbanism in Hamilton County's Clay Township.

Turner Trace will feature 236 lots for single-family houses, 48 townhouses and 17 acres of commercial area for offices and neighborhood retail establishments.

Townhouses will range from 1,800 to 2,800 square feet and start near $200,000. Home prices are expected to run from $250,000 to $500,000 or more.

Architectural standards will be strict, reflecting the historic designs found in Georgetown in Washington, D.C.; Williamsburg, Va.; and Savannah, Ga.

While Brosius was hoping house models would be well under way by now, bureaucratic and utility reviews and installation delays have slowed progress.

Brosius said he hopes Avon officials will grant final approval for the project this week.

That will clear the way for builders Oakleaf Homes, Gebhard Custom Homes and Will Wright Construction to begin work.

Terry Gebhard, owner of Gebhard Custom Homes, said he's anxious to get started.

"I guess what really attracted me to this development was just the look and feel of a community that 15 to 20 years down the road is still going to look really good. It's going to have class," he said.

Brosius said the inspiration for Turner Trace was the neighborhood where he grew up in Franklin.

"This is what I've always wanted to do," he said of the Turner Trace project.

A veteran of 15 years in the development business, Brosius was a project manager with Lee & Urbahns Co. before going out on his own. That firm developed Shiloh Crossing, where the idea was to create a mixed-use neighborhood.

"But when we got done with that, standing on the ground, the neighborhoods didn't relate to one another."

Brosius first proposed Turner Trace to Avon planners in 1997, two years after he received an option for the land.

Opposition was fierce -- at first -- and working through the zoning process has taken years.

Neighbors were concerned about the small lots, traffic congestion and what kind of businesses would be in the commercial section.

"This is a huge gamble," Brosius concedes. "We just feel there are people out there (in Hendricks County) who want this kind of development."

Mike Rogers, president of the Avon Plan Commission and a member of the Town Council, agrees.

He said custom homes will add to the mix of housing types available in Avon, and the commercial district will give residents a place to shop.

"We're trying to bring a balance of different types of housing," he said. "But when you're the first one that's doing something that's not traditional, it seems to be a magnet for criticism

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