Housing demand expected to grow with LEAP district
As business growth and interest in doing business increases in Boone County with the planned LEAP Innovation and Research District, demand for housing is also on the rise. One example is the 260-acre Wild Air development that, if approved, would bring nearly 400 single-family homes and townhomes, as well as 280 apartments to nearby Zionsville.
Officials believe the LEAP district will add to an already growing Boone County, which has seen nearly 30% population growth since 2010, making it the second-fastest growing county in Indiana.
Realtor Greg Cooper with Compass Indiana told Around INdiana Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman builders and developers are struggling to meet demand for affordable and workforce housing in the region.
“We’re already severely deficient in terms of the available inventory, both in Boone County and Western Hamilton County, and Northwestern Marion County,” Cooper said. “This is not something that’s going to allow the inventory of houses available to get better anytime soon. So, you’re going to have a surge of developers and builders, and you’re going to see an increased demand for an awful lot of new residential spaces in all of those three areas.”
In addition to housing, Cooper said the LEAP district will impact surrounding communities in a lot of ways he thinks will create a positive impact for many years to come.
“There’s going to be a rush in some of these communities to add services and amenities and quality of life for the residents, which will in turn interest developers in building more homes and developing more property,” he said.
Cooper said the demand for homes, particularly in Lebanon, is going to increase as work on the district continues because there aren’t homes for people to buy. In addition to new housing, there will more rental properties, both single-family and multifamily, begin to become available.
The housing problem is also creating opportunity for developers, something Steve Henke of Henke Development Group is already taking advantage of with his latest master planned community, The Waterford in Lebanon.
Henke said his company acquired about 2,000 acres of land a few years ago, which allows the developer to create “a city within a city.”
“We’ll be doing an 18-hole championship [golf] course [and] probably another 18-hole executive course there on 2,000 acres,” Henke said. “There’ll be commercial, there’ll be be all types of residential of all different sizes, shapes. It’s a perfect location between the Lebanon and Whitestown.”
When the Waterford project was first proposed in 2020, officials said it could take two decades to complete. In addition to the residential and golf components, the development will include retail space and an industrial park.
Eli Lilly and Co. last week broke ground on its $3.7 billion manufacturing campus in the LEAP district, which Henke said wasn’t in the works when he began work on the Waterford development, but will be a major asset.
“The multibillion dollar project they’re doing is going to bring a lot of employees, and with our quality development that we do, we think we’ll be able to really, really enhance the entire area too with creating upscale homes and developments with a golf course resort-type community.”
Looking at the overall housing market in Indiana, Cooper said the sticker shock of higher interest rates has mainly worn off, judging by the continued demand for people looking to buy homes.
“There’s also a very common mindset out there, with people who are purchasing now saying, ‘We think they’re going to go down, the whole mortgage rates. So, we’re going to be able to live with this six and a half-ish rate with the anticipation that we’re gonna be able to refinance that down sometime in the not too distant future.'”
Cooper said Indiana remains an affordable state, and he believes that will continue to attract people to the state.