Residential construction stays steady

By: 
Jill Meier • Jamie Hult
Aspen Harbor in Brandon is the only development that features lakefront properties. Submitted photo.

Construction remains strong in the Stone Ridge development located in Brandon’s northwest area of town. Jamie Hult/BV Journal

Construction of multi-family housing has been plentiful on Brandon’s east side in the Sunrise Creek development. Developers and builders say buyers get more bang for their buck here than in Sioux Falls, which comes along with big city amenities and a small-town feel. Jamie Hult/BV Journal

“Why Brandon?”
That question comes with thousands of answers.
As home to South Dakota’s No. 1 school district, that alone has served as one of the top reasons people have made the choice to make Brandon their home.
Others have looked to the low crime rate this community of 10,000-plus boasts as reason to plant roots here. New career endeavors or the desire to live closer to family or large-scale medical services has lured others.
Whatever the reason, residential development and construction here remain healthy.
“Brandon is thriving. We are a suburb of Sioux Falls, but we have our own medical clinics, we have two golf courses, three state parks,” said developer-builder-Realtor Justin Oakland. “And they are coming here for the community, because of the city parks, the pool, the schools, the state parks, the proximity to Sioux Falls, everything you need. Brandon is doing well and there’s a lot of good here.”
Oakland is one of a handful of local developers that is not only building homes here, but is doing his part to create neighborhoods in two separate developments under the Oakland Homes nameplate. Aspen Harbor is a 30-lot development, and the infrastructure for the first phase of Twin Rivers Crossing, which encompasses 48 acres, is in process.
“I think Brandon is thriving and there’s a need for housing – affordable housing,” Oakland stresses. We have the No. 1 school district, of course, low crime rates, and Brandon is thriving and growing, so we like to develop.”
In the first six months of 2019, Brandon saw 11 new permits for single-family homes, along with a single four-plex apartment building and two 3-plexes. 
This same time last year, the city had issued 18 single-family home permits and five permits for twin homes. Brandon wrapped up 2018 with 49 residential building permits in all total. Thirty-nine went to single-family homes, and 10 to multi-family units: six twin homes, two 3-plexes and two 4-plexes. 
“We get a few calls a week. Some fizzle out; some we’re still in contact with. They have homes to sell, marriages to consolidate and lives to consolidate to get into the one home,” Oakland said.
Terry Javers is building several single-family homes in Brandon under his company name, Thunder Creek Custom Homes. Site grading is in process now at the corner of East Redwood Boulevard and North Pasque Flower Trail, and the development has the potential for 18 new single-family homes. 
Javers is also building along Sunshine Avenue in east Brandon.
“We have three different floor plans in mind. I don’t want to call them starter homes, but they’re geared more toward affordable options,” said Mike Schlapkohl with Thunder Creek.
The new single-family homes coming to Redwood and Pasque Flower will range from 1,000 to 1,300 square feet and $250,000 to $300,000.
Thunder Creek builds an average of 12 to 15 homes a year in Sioux Falls and the surrounding area. In the last few years, Schlapkohl said, the majority of those have been in Brandon.
“From our standpoint, building is holding strong – maybe even busier than last year,” he said. “The lots are more affordable than in Sioux Falls. You get more bang for your buck.”
Thunder Creek also has eight homes in Stone Ridge Estates and a few along Sunshine Avenue in east Brandon.
Kyle Johnson lives near several Thunder Creek lots. He and his family moved in to their new home just last week.
“The community’s really good. It’s safe,” said Johnson, who’s lived here for nine years. “The school system is good, too.”
The strength of Brandon Valley schools is a common refrain among residents, new and old alike. 
“Our reputation and our notoriety are really being recognized recently with our test scores, and our athletic and academic achievements we’ve had the last few years have just been off the charts,” said Mayor Paul Lundberg, who’s also the long-time business manager for the school district. “That’s drawing a lot of people here to the school district. Our achievements have been fabulous and large.”
The success of the school district is a reflection of the community, Oakland believes. 
“Why do we good school system? Because we have good people running the school system,” he says. “We have good teachers. We have good administration. We have good facilities. We have good infrastructure to support those facilities – water, sewer, streets, street lights – and we have the communities to support that school system. We can do fundraisers at Pizza Ranch, Taco Johns. We have the community sponsoring the Booster clubs and the events. I know it’s easy for people to say we moved here for the school, but why do we have this school? It just doesn’t exist. We have to have the community surrounding the school to support it.”
Some of the school district’s growth is happening in northwest Brandon, where expansion plans are in place for new single-family housing at Stone Ridge Estates. 
“The building right now is really good in Brandon,” said Rob Schoeneman, who’s been working with his dad, Stan, for 18 years in the family business, Schoeneman Construction. “I don’t see anything slowing down. The phone is ringing every day, even if it’s a remodel or a basement.”
Schoeneman grew up in Brandon and was recently appointed to the planning and zoning board.
“The school district, I would say, is the No. 1 reason people come to Brandon,” he said. “Most of the people we build for is young families that have kids who are either in the district or are going to go to school in the district.”
The average price of a new home in Brandon hovers around $325,000, Schoeneman said. Many are looking for homes in the $225,000 range, he said, but despite the variance in prices, new residents continue coming.
“The people seem to like the smaller communities still, instead of the hustle and bustle of Sioux Falls,” he said.
Oakland Homes’ Aspen Harbor broke ground two years ago, and today, eight homes now fill one of the 30 available lots.
“Our goal is to do six homes per year,” Oakland explains. “We hit that goal in year one and we’re currently on track to meet that six-home goal this year.”
If the goal is met, Aspen Harbor will be completely developed over the next four years.
Three of the eight homes at Aspen Harbor were built as spec homes, and Oakland’s leap of faith paid off. The first home sold before it was completed, and the other was purchased following the 2018 Home Builders of the Sioux Empire’s spring parade of homes. The third, he informs, is under construction now and two others will get underway soon.
Infrastructure work on phase one of Twin Rivers Crossing, located along Sioux Boulevard directly south of Aspen Park, is nearing completion, despite harsh weather conditions.
“It’s going well after having a tough fall, winter and spring,” Oakland says. “There’s a foot and a half of pure black dirt that holds moisture when it rains, so we fought that this spring, but they stuck with the dirt and got it done. Once we get through that black dirt, it’s sand and gravel, which is amazing to build on and is amazing for drainage.”
Twin Rivers Crossing – formerly recognized as the Fauth farm – encompasses 48 acres, of which 12 of those acres will be developed into 35 lots. Oakland said when approximately 50 percent of that development is sold, phase two of four will begin.
The goal is to have the roads paved by the end of this month and construction can start the first part of August. Oakland is opening this development to other builders.
The location of this development to the city’s Aspen Park may be this development’s biggest perk.
“Location, location, location.,” Oakland says. “We are in the heart of Brandon proper and we view it as a place where families can thrive and kids can ride their bikes to the pool, ride their bikes to baseball practice, and hopefully, hockey practice in the future.”
The city is in the infant stages of expanding Aspen Park. A trio of concepts was unveiled last month, and now city leaders will begin planning for the park’s future. One community organization – the Brandon Hockey Association – continues to fundraise for an indoor hockey arena, and Aspen Park is the intended location for the indoor rink.
“We were excited to see those concepts come out. Both of our developments – Aspen Harbor and Twin Rivers Crossing – are outlined on those concepts and we worked closely with the park committee through the development engineering approval process,” Oakland said.
Out of those meetings came two eight-foot shared use walking/biking paths from the Twin Rivers Crossing development to the park. The path would go down Chapelwood to Nicholas to the park and another access is planned for the extension of Evergreen.
“Aspen Park expansion will just be amazing, not only for our development, but for Brandon as a whole. 
Our goal is to create a good neighborhood for the community so there’s good connectivity for vehicles and pedestrians,” he said.
The VanBuskirks have lived and worked in Brandon since Myron VanBuskirk founded VanBuskirk Companies in 1971 at the corner of Kirkwood Boulevard and Cedar Street.
His son, Steve, is developing properties throughout the community today, including residential neighborhoods at Stone Ridge Estates and The Bluffs at Brandon.
“I think people just appreciate a small town feel, but with nice amenities like a grocery store, post office, stuff you need,” Steve VanBuskirk said. “Brandon has pretty terrain. It’s got a lot of big city amenities in a small city package.”
Stone Ridge Estates consists of 266 total lots and 24 available lots ranging from $44,900 to $71,900. He said future plans are to expand Stone Ridge further east.
“Development has been pretty steady the last few years. We keep adding new inventory,” VanBuskirk said. “We had a great year out at Stone Ridge.”
VanBuskirk Companies also has several available lots in in Canterbury Heights, a northeast Sioux Falls neighborhood off East Madison Street, which is shaping up to be one of the fastest-growing areas within the Brandon Valley School District. 
“We’re seeing tremendous growth within the school district and Brandon proper,” Lundberg said. “School district-wise, we’re seeing huge growth on the south side of the district and down by 41st Street.”
The latter neighborhood is earmarked for Brandon Valley’s next elementary school, tentatively planned to open in the fall of 2021.  
School district administrators expect to gain 170 new students this fall. Last year, the district grew by 190, far exceeding the 115 anticipated, setting all-time enrollment high. 
“Obviously, I’m a huge proponent of the growth in Brandon. It’s invaluable for the school district and the city to have that growth to be able to survive,” Lundberg said.
 

 

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