New development planned for Holmes Harbor

A new subdivision is in the works in one of the few areas on South Whidbey where small, condensed lots are allowed.

County and private sector leaders have long bemoaned the lack of housing options on Whidbey Island, especially on the South End. In early June, construction will begin on a new six-acre, 29-lot development within Holmes Harbor in an attempt to meet some of this need, according to Bill Criswell of Clinton-based Eagle Development Group, LLC.

It won’t solve everything; the single-family houses will not be rentals or for low-income families, but Criswell and his son Ben Criswell said the access to the Holmes Harbor sewer system will allow for smaller lots and lower prices.

The three-bedroom homes will likely go for the mid-$400,000s, Ben Criswell said, and they’re aimed at millennial buyers. There are seven floor plans to choose from— ranging in size from 1,450 to 1,710 square feet.

“Our goal is to create communities within communities,” said Ben Criswell.

To try and attract younger families, the group is advertising the potential ability to connect to high-speed fiber optic internet, the energy-efficient techniques the homes will use and a nearby park.

The development had originally been planned by different developers about a decade ago, Bill Criswell said. The economic downturn stalled the first effort until Eagle Development purchased the land about two years ago. Looming deadlines for plat approval created a significant hurdle right away, Ben Criswell said.

Both men expressed gratitude for the guidance and support of Island County planning staff and county Commissioner Helen Price Johnson.

“If you follow the rules, they’re on your side,” Ben Criswell said.

Price Johnson said she connected them with staff when they approached her about the project. She said she appreciates that the development is in an area with sewer connections and that it’s in Freeland, which is an area the county has designated as preferable for growth to occur.

“There are so few areas outside the incorporated areas that you can have smaller lots,” Price Johnson said. “This is kind of one of those wonderful, rare opportunities.”

The standard floor plans used by Eagle Development, which is a parent company of Eagle Building Company, are for three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes. One option includes a “bonus area” above the garage. The first project will be a model home and the rest of the lots will be sold as a “lot-home package” to ensure the planned community grows with a consistent look, Ben Criswell said.

There have been few negative comments so far, the Criswells said, and most of them were related to road work that was required and a fence on the property border.

“It’s helping to meet a really important need,” Price Johnson said. “This is a market response to the need, which I think the community particularly appreciates.”

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