Willow Bend housing development to break ground Friday

Artist rendering of the new Willow Bend development / Courtesy

A new housing development intended to provide “attainable” housing in south Fayetteville will break ground this week.

The new development, created by local non-profit organization Partners for Better Housing, will be located on a 9-acre lot on South Washington Avenue near Walker Park.

The development will include a total of 80 single-family homes ranging in size from 900-1,800 square feet with a target price of $130,000-$270,000.

Keaton Smith, president of Partners for Better Housing, said the organization was founded to provide quality, attainable housing in Fayetteville. About two-thirds of the homes will be sold to buyers who earn at or below the Area Median Income (estimated at $58,700 for a family of four).

Aerial view of the upcoming Willow Bend development / Courtesy

“Owning a home within Fayetteville city limits is out of reach for many people due to increasing property values,” Smith said. “Many would like to live in town for its charming, established neighborhoods and the ability to walk to employment opportunities, as well as its range of services and amenities.”

The neighborhood will be built utilizing low-impact development practices, and has been designed with an emphasis on walkability. The individual homes will be built to operate as energy efficiently as possible as well.

“We think of true affordability as a home that is attainable to purchase, and to live in, when you factor in utility costs and transportation costs,” Smith said. “This is a better metric for the true overall cost of homeownership.”

The city is helping to make the project feasible. City Council members in October voted to provide a $1 million cost share reimbursement for infrastructure built in the public right-of-way for the neighborhood.

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan said the neighborhood is helping the city meet is goals of providing more attainable housing in the city.

“Willow Bend will be an example of how to successfully build sustainable and attainable housing using a model that can be replicated elsewhere in Fayetteville and throughout the Northwest Arkansas region,” Jordan said.

The project has also received $177,500 of a $500,000 grant administered by the National Center for Appropriate Technologies from the Home Depot Foundation’s Sustainable Cities Institute Pilot City Program.

Partners for Better Housing will manage a soft-second mortgage program to supplement primary mortgages for qualified buyers, and will also help buyers navigate down payment assistance programs. Financing for the project will be provided by First Security Bank.

The first homes should be available for purchase before the end of 2017.

A groundbreaking ceremony is set for 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24 at the construction site.

For more information about the project, visit partnersforbetterhousing.org.