• By Kirk Gaw

New 2019 Poll Shows Need For More Housing in Walkerton

Many seeking business in real estate throughout the Walkerton area are interested in the buying and leasing of homes. According to the Town of Walkerton there is construction, at the north edge of town on single-family, multi-family homes, a new shopping center, and a retirement village. The town website indicates that the community is working on Walnut Crossing, Indian Trails, West York, Washington Park, and Dogwood Estates subdivisions. But, what about new business? And, what about the many empty lots in the historic boundaries of the town?

Many seeking homes appreciate choices. Last Monday, on April 15th, the Walkerton Page conducted a poll in the Facebook group to determine opinions about Walkerton housing needs. We stated, "in an effort to maintain momentum for more affordable housing to be constructed in Walkerton indicate your feelings about the subject?" "Do you think enough choices exist for housing rentals in Walkerton?" "Market rate?" Or "Senior housing?" The poll involved 70 participants. *

The recent poll indicated that many participants feel a need to create more market rate, low income, affordable apartment units in the Walkerton community. This design is an example by KTGY Architecture and Planning.

31 respondents said they would like to see more single family residences built.

26 respondents said we need more affordable market rate rental units.

14 respondents said we need more assisted living units.

9 respondents said we need more senior apartments.

4 respondents said we need more loft style apartments.

Several poll participants would like to see historic loft style apartments in the downtown Walkerton commercial center.

After a 2012 article with Economic Development director Phil Buckmaster, "Affordable Housing Finance" wrote that the $12.5 million Dogwood Estates project came together faster than ever could have been imagined. Old West York homes were bought and then demolished to build the current housing that immediately became full. But, that was 7 years ago.

The real estate market of the area has continued to show that demand outweighs supply. Also, that there exists many seeking units in the Walkerton community. The South Bend Tribune reported in a March 22nd article from 2018 that the real estate market still prefers sellers since, years after the recession. The Tribune indicates that the local housing market is humming. That real estate experts say is driven by low supply,a rapidly improving economy, and fears of rising interest rates.

Most respondents said they would like to see more single family residents built. The community has been working on new developments like Walnut Crossing on the north side of town. It's filled and could use more expansion in the future.

Myron Larimer, executive director of the South Bend-Mishawaka Association of Realtors, said “It is very active,” of the market. Since 2017 they reported that newly listed homes spent an average of 90 days on the market. Total inventory, meanwhile, dipped 24 percent year-over-year, from more than 1,000 units last year to fewer than 800 this year. “It’s predominantly a sellers’ market,” Larimer said. “We’re seeing multiple offers, competitive bids across most price points, but especially in the $100,000 to $250,000 range, that midrange. "Some homes, he said, are selling in mere hours."

Many pollers said they want to see more senior housing built for the community. They also, want to see more assisted living in Walkerton.

As witnessed in this new 2019 poll there is a strong demand for market rate affordable housing rental units. Will business community leaders pursue more development to fulfill the needs of low income renters? It is a subject requiring consideration. Even the thought of converting upper floors of the downtown business district to loft apartments.


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