CHAMPAIGN — Since February, the city of Champaign has issued 30 building permits for new homes in the Boulder Ridge neighborhood.
Located north of Bradley Avenue and west of Interstate 57, the neighborhood is quickly filling in after years of stagnation.
Realtor Debra Hensel said her development team built several homes near Boulder Ridge in 2008, right before the recession.
“We decided to invest in Champaign-Urbana. It was a college town. It was booming. There was lots of growth. Then all of the sudden, that’s not what happened,” she said. “There was nothing for a long time after 2008.”
Boulder Ridge has some of the best selection of new homes under $300,000, local Realtors said.
“There’s definitely an appeal over there,” said Joanna Smith, a Realtor with Keller Williams. “The builders are building some great quality products, and they’re affordable for people.”
Mike Cross, a Realtor with Re/Max, said those homes are nicely priced, with most under $300,000.
“That’s a very popular price point. We’ve had a pent-up demand for anything under" $300,000, he said. “And things have not been lasting very long. We’re looking at probably 30 to 60 days tops for resale properties.”
He said most of the buyers he has worked with are first-time homebuyers.
“We’ve had a few people that have downsized from bigger houses, that don’t want the upkeep. Empty-nesters,” Cross said.
Hensel, who also has several rental properties in the Boulder Ridge neighborhood, said she has similar tenants.
Despite being close to Parkland College, she said, the properties don’t rent to any Parkland students. Instead, many of the tenants are graduate students, doctors or nurses, as well as teachers and professors.
There’s also some retired people, she said, as the homes are “perfect for people who are downsizing.”
But she said the majority are sold to first-time homebuyers.
“That is a huge portion of it,” Hensel said.
While Boulder Ridge may have the largest cluster of permits for new homes in the area, Champaign has also issued several for new homes in southwest Champaign, including at the Trails at Abbey Fields, the Trails at Chestnut Grove, Liberty on the Lake and the Legends development.
Five permits were issued for new homes at the Legends development, which Signature Homes co-founder Bill Peifer said is doing well.
“The homes are in a price point that is popular (under $260,000),” he said in an email.
It’s “a mix of young and more mature professionals are buying them (we have not seen an uptick in people buying that work at Carle at the Fields),” he said.
The entire area of southwest Champaign continues to see a lot of new homes, which isn’t surprising to Adam Yoder, a partner at Premier Homes.
“Southwest Champaign in general tends to be pretty popular,” Yoder said. “It’s easy access to get downtown through Kirby. You’re kind of out on the edge. You’ve got Lincolnshire Fields Country Club out there. You just have a lot of nicer homes out there so people tend to gravitate toward that area.”
Randy Smith, building safety supervisor for the Champaign Fire Department, which issues the permits, said many of the new homes are simply being built where there are open lots.
“We are currently seeing a bit of infill in the existing subdivisions,” he said.
A new development is planned west of Liberty on the Lake and the Carle Clinic on the southwest corner of Mattis Avenue and Curtis Road, but “Savoy is expanding a lot quicker than west Champaign,” Yoder said.
In Urbana, clusters of new permits have been issued for the South Ridge and Stone Creek neighborhoods.
And in Savoy, several new homes are being built in the Prairie Fields, Lake Falls and Fieldstone subdivisions.
There, addresses for some new home permits are so new, Google Maps didn’t recognize them.
Premier Homes specializes in building “middle-upper-end” houses, Yoder said, and for that, “Lake Falls in Savoy in the last two years has been a more up-and-coming area for us.”