Bullish on Webster City

Housing developers eager to build find this Hamilton County town is a receptive market

The two new homes in the foreground were built by Ridge Development LLC of Hiawatha and will be listed for sale in April. Located on Kamen Drive in Brewer Creek Estates Subdivision, the ranch homes have three bedrooms, an open floor plan with great room, garage, and unfinished basement. They are expected to list for between $340,000 and $390,000.

With spring comes the start of peak home buying and selling season. As the Covid pandemic continues to wane, and interest rates slowly come down, signs point to a solid year for new residential construction in Webster City.

Two Iowa-based property developers have recently acquired lots in Webster City’s Brewer Creek subdivision with plans to build new single-family homes, and duplex townhomes. Both firms, Ridge Development LLC, of Hiawatha, and Green Stream Homes of Iowa, Waukee, have built in Webster City previously.

Green Stream will develop four 1,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, single-car garage, ranch-style single-family homes. Company owner, Dave Walters, told the Daily Freeman Journal: “These will be well-built homes with lots of family appeal.”

Walters grew up in Eagle Grove and, for a while, lived in the barracks on Superior Street in Webster City near the former armory.

“Webster City’s a nice community, and the city has made it clear it wants to work with developers,” he said. “There are good incentives for us to keep building here.”

Walters expects the new homes to sell for “between $234,000 and $249,000.” Green Stream will first try to sell the homes through its own sales company before working with local realtors. Walters notes, “Not everyone can afford a $400,000 home, and not everyone wants to live in an apartment. These homes provide an option to that segment of the market.”

Green Stream was a silent financial partner in construction of The Allure at River’s Edge, two 30-unit, three-story apartment buildings at 2135 South Edgewood Drive in Webster City. The apartments were planned as part of a larger complex, including as many as 64 duplexes, an assisted living community and, ultimately, a nursing home. Only the apartments have been completed thus far.

Brian Ridge, owner of Ridge Development LLC, plans to build a total of 12 duplex townhomes on the six lots his firm is buying in Brewer Creek Estates.

“The agreement is signed, and we’re designing the homes now,” he said. “We’ll be offering a three-bedroom, two and a half-bath, two-story, with garage unit coming in at just under 1,500 square feet. This will allow us to hit a more affordable price point than with a conventional, free-standing single family home.”

Ridge recently asked the City Council of Webster City to reduce the cost of permitting for its new townhomes.

“When our first units were built here, we paid $1,500 to $2,000 per unit for permitting, and inspections. With our latest four homes, the costs nearly doubled. This is more than in comparable markets. It definitely increases the cost of homes to buyers,” Ridge said.

In order to properly address Ridge’s concerns over the costs of permitting, Webster City’s Development Director Ariel Bertran did a survey of such costs in neighboring towns, including Story City, Clarion, Eagle Grove, Fort Dodge and Boone.

Interim City Manager John Harrenstein told the Daily Freeman Journal, “Based on the performance of the developer [Ridge] in past housing builds, and his willingness to move forward with the purchase of more lots, the City Council agreed to the developer’s request to cap building fees at $2,500 for each structure.”

For clarification, Bertran added, “The cap on the fee includes the building permit, and all related trade permits; plumbing, electrical, mechanical, etc.”

Ridge was satisfied, saying, “They listened. It’s a good outcome for everyone. Webster City has proved it’s easy to work with. We’re very happy to be doing business here again.”

In addition to its work in Webster City, Ridge is currently building a 28-unit residential development in Clear Lake, 82 apartments and 17 single-family homes in Chariton, and what Ridge calls “a large commercial-industrial development” in Tiffin.

“It’s right on I-80 and will fill 157 acres when fully built-out,” he said.

Finally, the firm is just completing conversion of the former post office in Oskaloosa into a restaurant, its first restoration/repurposing of a historic building.

Ridge said developers must “be very selective in what projects we take on, and where. Right now, we’re only building in towns where we can quickly turn around our investment, and readily sell what we’ve built.

“Webster City is one of those markets.”


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