No vacancy: Council grapples with housing shortage

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Not long ago it seemed as though a for-sale sign lurked on about every street corner in Greencastle. It was like Collins Evans or Tucker Schneider were somebody running for City Council.

Four or five years ago dozens of houses were on the market in the Edgelea Subdivision alone.

Yet now apparently there is a housing shortage, Greencastle City Council President Adam Cohen noted at the panel's recent June meeting at City Hall.

He suggested only five or 10 houses are on the market within city limits, and across all of Putnam County a little more than 100 options exist for potential home buyers.

"The number that stuck out in my head," Cohen said, "is that in all of Putnam County, 108 total houses at all price points are available, and that was it. That is not much."

Cohen said he and Mayor Bill Dory have spoken a number of times about the lack of housing and what city officials might do to attract more people to live in Greencastle, especially upper management and administrative personnel from local businesses, the university and schools.

But it's more than if we build it, they will come.

"I've asked the mayor if next month he could give us kind of an overview of what actions, and there are a few, the Council can take to try to encourage more housing development within the city."

One project that is under way is the new Whispering Winds Subdivision, the 30-acre subdivision that broke ground in November 2016 and is under development by Jared Grable off Zinc Mill Road and County Road 200 South.

"We've been actively talking to some developers," Mayor Dory said, "so we're keeping those conversations going."

Councilman Mark Hammer brought up perhaps the elephant in the room for this continuing discussion -- annexation.

"If we're going to really look at getting some houses built," Hammer said, "we're probably looking at annexation because there's not a lot of empty ground within city limits."

The city hasn't annexed any major property since Mike Harmless was mayor in the early 1990s when it took in Fillmore Road just north of State Road 240 and added a couple other small areas but dropped consideration of Edgelea and property west of the railroad tracks on West Walnut Street over objections by landowners and a perceived inability to provide necessary city services -- most notably sanitary sewers -- in the prescribed amount of time to affect annexation.

The question remains, Council President Cohen said: "What can we do as a Council to encourage more houses to be built, which would then encourage more people to live here versus losing a lot of people to other communities."

He said the issue has hit home in his office at DePauw as new hires have struggled to find homes to buy or rentals to lease.

Councilman Steve Fields, however, noted that there is a major difference in such staff members and upper management or administrative personnel looking for a home in Greencastle.

"When you're talking about upper management personnel at one of the factories or an administrative position at DePauw," he said, "they're not looking for the average $100,000 or $150,000 home, they're looking for $300,000 to $500,000 homes."

Cohen agreed.

"That's true," he said, "but the people in my office are looking for the $100,000 or $150,000 homes, and when you've got maybe five or 10 houses in the city and 108 in the county, you don't have much of any price point available."

Cohen also suggested that some untapped property remains in locations within city limits that could be useful for new housing.

"There is apparently more available in kind of scattered lots in the city than I think we realize," he said. "It's just a matter of how do we incentivize doing that to get that infill going again."

City officials realized the issue was not going to be resolved in one night at the monthly City Council meeting.

"We'll talk in July," Cohen said.

"Be aware of it; we're talking about it, and it'll involve money as it usually does."

The Council's July meeting is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 12 at City Hall.

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  • 1) We should all thank PRESIDENT TRUMP (!) for the improvement of the economy.

    2) Leave it to the socialists on the Greencastle Common Council to find a problem that "government" must fix.

    3) DePauw has a hand in the problem b/c they continually buy up property for student housing and all their other glorious buildings... sans property tax.

    3) My suggestion: Let the market do its thing. My brother always says: "Everything I own is for sale. You just have to name the right price."

    -- Posted by AverageWhiteGuy on Wed, Jun 20, 2018, at 11:51 AM
  • Mr. Cohen get out and look around , there are 2 on my small street and 3 behind me.

    -- Posted by Bald Eagle on Wed, Jun 20, 2018, at 12:37 PM
  • Bald Eagle. Mr. Cohen states there are still some houses available. So the 5 you are referring to are accounted for.

    -- Posted by Nit on Wed, Jun 20, 2018, at 7:05 PM
  • Nit, you missed the boat. Five right here beside me. I have found several houses for sale in Putnam County. You only have to look farther than the end of your nose. Look in the Homes for sale book, more than Mr Cohen suggested. Quit letting DePauw buy homes and tear them down.

    -- Posted by Bald Eagle on Thu, Jun 21, 2018, at 10:07 AM
  • A quick search on Realtor.com (at 1:15pm on 6/21/18) shows 156 houses for sale just in the 46135 zip code.

    This doesn't include all the houses for sale in the Heritage Lake area, or the houses throughout the rest of the county.

    -- Posted by AverageWhiteGuy on Thu, Jun 21, 2018, at 1:18 PM
  • 1) We should thank President Obama for allowing trump to inherit a nice, healthy economy! Thanks Obama!

    2) If you read the article you'll notice that people with families probably want a few bedrooms and a house that cost more than 100k. There are less than 10 available in Greencastle right now! Every single realtor will tell you there is a shortage of QUALITY houses.

    3) My suggestion: Let's let the market do its own thing but also plan for a healthy, growing economy!

    -- Posted by averagewhineguy on Thu, Jun 21, 2018, at 7:24 PM
  • Searched 6/22/18 @ 10:30am on Realtor.com... In the 46135 zip code, there are 81 homes for sale that are listed over $100k. Of these, well over 30 of them are "in town".

    If you look at available lots to build on "in town" there are also over 30 parcels.

    Hyperbole on your part, whiner? Perhaps. Or perhaps you are so blinded by ideology and conditioned to accept what certain sources tell you that you cannot accept simple facts that contradict your own bias... (see: untrue comments about President Obama "giving" President Trump a good economy. See also: the lie that there are only 10 houses in Greencastle for sale right now.)

    Its telling that you prefer to weasel-word your rebuttal by qualifying your remarks with the word "QUALITY". "QUALITY" is a subjective term (the use of which is a typical leftist ploy) that allows you to wiggle your way out of being proven wrong.

    If you didn't care so much about those only looking for a "Quality" house in the $100k-$150k range, you would find even more for just under $100. And several that an average family could afford and then make their own fixing it up a little bit at a time.

    Central planning, eh? Spoken like a true Socialist. Why does the government need to be involved in any of this?

    I guess you missed the part where the free-market is already working on the solution (new housing development) without the government's planning.

    -- Posted by AverageWhiteGuy on Fri, Jun 22, 2018, at 11:03 AM
  • Average White Guy! Your awesome!

    -- Posted by landstarrang on Fri, Jun 22, 2018, at 3:05 PM
  • aw.. you're so cute!

    1) City council only cares about dum dum dum city limits. Just searching all of 46135 is kind of irrelevant. here's an imgur link according to zillow of homes that are 3 bedroom 100k+ https://imgur.com/a/8gOv3lx looks like a shortage. Also you should consider calling remax, prime, carpenter because they'll verify my comments on a shortage. but whatevvvva

    2) Trump inherited a healthy economy. Look at rates of unemployment from Obama to Trump https://imgur.com/a/cK3l6FK PS I didn't vote for Obama

    3) Don't like city planning? can you upload your address? I have a spare 200k to invest and am looking for a place to invest my pig farm and chicken coop. I'm sure that the property next to yours would be great! I am also looking for a place to put in a gun range!

    -- Posted by averagewhineguy on Fri, Jun 22, 2018, at 8:01 PM
  • Thanks, whiner, but you aren't my type.

    1) The original article stated something about all of Putnam County, not just Greencastle. In addition, the subdivision up around the golf course isn't in the "city" proper but would have houses that might fit your narrow criteria. Heritage Lake should also be considered a viable option.

    2) I don't care who you voted for, that's your business. But you obviously have a hard time with facts if you don't know that the Obama administration was cooking the books on employment/unemployment to make themselves look good. You can also look at the currency manipulation and interest rate shenanigans to see that your "healthy" Obama economy was a farce. Try learning some economics.

    3) I don't like government getting involved in stuff it has no business getting into, like a housing shortage. As noted previously, the free market is already working on solutions.

    As for your pig farm and chicken coop, that is a zoning issue, not economic planning. (Either you know the difference and decided to pivot b/c that is what leftists do when discussing things or you don't understand the difference. Either way, you are unworthy of further consideration.)

    But I will keep my eyes/ears open about that gun range... I could always use some more range time.

    -- Posted by AverageWhiteGuy on Mon, Jun 25, 2018, at 9:49 AM
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