SCHERERVILLE — It has been 42 years since Bud Luers planted the first Christmas tree on his lot on 91st Avenue. Now, the Luers Tree Farm is going to grow a crop of about 750 homes.
The Town Council approved the annexation of about 3.3 acres this month, which will add the final piece of the farm to the town by the end of the year. It was actually the third annexation needed for the project.
The three-step process was needed to meet the contiguity requirements of the state law, which says at least one-eighth of the property’s perimeter be contiguous to the town. The first annexation added about 320 acres in June of 2017, and another 150 acres was annexed early this year.
“We expect them to start with development soon,” Town Manager Robert Volkmann said. “They have to give us 18-month notice because of the issues the town has to deal with, like the sanitary sewers that are not there yet.”
Volkmann said the sewer now stops about a mile short of the property. Access to water already is available with a water tower near the corner of Burr Street.
“At some point we could need another water tower and another connection to Indiana American Water,” he said. “We’re ready to go. In anticipation of their coming into the town, we’ve been working with the town engineers, Robinson Engineering, on corridor studies so we know what 91st Avenue needs to look like to service the population.”
He said the town has looked at various options, such as a traffic signal at Burr or possibly a roundabout, and how many lanes 91st should have.
“At rush hour it gets pretty choked up, but there’s not that much the rest of the time. We’re studying the water system for expected flows, but we’re starting to see the effect of the efficiency of the new appliances with less usage. Also, older families have fewer people as the kids grow up and move out.”
The development of the property is being planned by Drapac Capital Partners, a real estate investment group headquartered in Atlanta but with roots in Australia, according to spokesman Max Cookes.
“Drapac focuses on purchasing large residential communities in select markets around the country,” Cookes said. St. Bourke Development in Atlanta, a wholly owned subsidiary of Drapac, has been working on the planning, entitlements and design component of Luers Farm.
“We have been really pleased with the entire annexation and zoning process with Schererville. Bob Volkmann and the Planning Commission have been terrific to work with. They really understood what we were trying to achieve with Luers Farm. They embraced the idea of integrating the farm land, large open spaces and the community farmers market into the residential neighborhood,” Cookes said.
He said the company now is focusing on finalizing the design and scale of the first phase of the project and will be in Schererville in a month to meet with several prospective home builders and development partners. He would not speculate on when construction might start.