The Lakes Neighborhood development group, led by Renaissance Rentals, has taken a significant financial risk of its own to ensure that the land evolves in the best way possible.
First, here’s a bit of background on what this all could have been: a Texas-based student-housing development company nearly purchased this property. We believed that what they had in store would be detrimental to the land, the neighborhood and the community — so strongly that we purchased the land ourselves when given the chance.
Second, much of the desired and necessary infrastructure is already in place for the residential community that we have in mind.
The surrounding streets have available capacity and there are adequate utilities. Two schools and several city parks are within an easy walk, and shopping, dining, churches and entertainment are nearby.
The Lakes Neighborhood’s own paths will connect to and enhance the city trail system, and link to Schmaltz Farm Park. Speaking of connectivity, bus transit serves the area.
The neighborhood also will create a link in existing sanitary sewer lines, thereby eliminating a lift station and the related energy consumption.
In short, the Lakes Neighborhood is infill development at its smartest.
Third, we pledge to apply thoughtful design and patient investment to this land, which will certainly create a robust neighborhood in a wonderfully placid, sustainable environment.
A: Our vision for the Lakes Neighborhood aligns with the city’s vision for this land. The Growth Policies Plan, Bloomington’s comprehensive vision for long-term growth, recommends this area as a mixed-use development, offering several types of housing designed to meet a variety of needs, lifestyles and demographics, plus commercial space.
The neighborhood will be anchored by single-family homes, and will include townhomes, a condominium building and apartments, too. We are proposing retail and commercial space to serve the neighborhood. Those businesses would be slated for a plaza that will serve as a social and transit hub.
Mixed-use neighborhoods promote working and living with a smaller carbon footprint and can encourage healthy, active lifestyles. Ours will allow for intergenerational neighborhood living and social interaction, too.
The zone district encourages “mixed densities, varied housing types and nonresidential services.” Meanwhile, the Growth Policies Plan, Bloomington’s comprehensive plan for long-term growth, calls for “urban scale densities” and “innovative residential design.”
Our proposed Planned Unit Development follows the guidelines of the Growth Policies Plan. Both the underlying zoning and the Growth Policies Plan support the proposal.
The Planned Unit Development process that we’re currently working through lets us set unique standards for the area, so long as they are patterned after the County Code and the City Code.
Our proposed standards will be carefully reviewed by the Monroe County Plan Commission to insure that they promote the vision of the neighborhood. We do not intend to ask for changes to underlying codes that relate to the environment, density, etc.
The lake holds back floodwaters and delays water from going downstream. For example, Howard Lake reduces the flow in Jackson Creek downstream more than 30 percent during a 100-year flood. If the lake reaches the capacity of the run-off pipe, the water goes over the overflow spillway.
Howard Lake also serves as a sediment basin and has water-filtering effects for more than a square mile of upstream neighborhoods.
It’s also a welcome environment for various waterfowl, fish and other wildlife.
Howard Lake and the dam are inspected and regulated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water. In spring 2014, we proactively undertook dam inspection and maintenance steps, which drew the water level down to allow for maintenance.
Because of the tremendous value that Howard Lake provides, the Lakes Neighborhood Homeowners Association will be a trusted and accountable steward of the resource.
Management will bid, hire and supervise paid sub-contractors for lawn care, litter pick-up, snow removal and road repairs. This arrangement will allow the Homeowners’ Association access to the janitorial and maintenance staff that can be available daily to look after trash-and-recycling dumpsters, which will be housed at a centralized facility.
A centralized trash-and-recycling facility allows for cost reductions, while limiting truck traffic in the neighborhood and eliminating waste cans on curbs. We have found that providing a well-designed and maintained trash-and-recycling drop-off facility are much appreciated and valued amenities.
The neighborhood’s southern access on Sare Road is directly across from the entrance to Sherwood Oaks Christian Church. The second access to Sare Road is slightly to the north, and together, those entrances provide definition for the neighborhood’s retail/commercial space and plaza. Those entrances are located well away from the roundabout at Sare and Rogers roads.
On Rogers Road, the west entrance is across from the Kensington entry. The second entrance on Rogers Road is to the east, adjacent to the path crossing of Rogers Road. There is generous spacing between the two entrances. A connection is also made to Meadow Creek to an existing road stub.
The Association will be responsible for establishing usage rules for both Howard Lake and the area immediately surrounding the lake. The Association will maintain both the environmental integrity and the visual ambiance of the area.
The overall character of the neighborhood will be firmly established through the zoning process, architectural control covenants and HOA architectural review committees, and the homebuilders will work within those architectural design guidelines.
The team will use example photos for reference during the zoning approval process.
These guidelines will become part of the Lakes Neighborhood Homeowners’ Association governing documents, known as Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. An architectural committee will also be created to approve proposed structures within the guidelines.
For direction, we’re turning to appealing communities across the country. For example, Giddings Plaza in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago has a intimate daytime feel, and Rosemary Beach, Florida, is especially enchanting at night when the community is lit with natural gas lamps. The Hyde Park area of Cincinnati, Ohio, is another district with a covetable atmosphere.
Buildings that are three to four stories tall will frame the plaza, and all of the buildings’ exteriors will be brick, stone or both.
As the apartment buildings move further east, their exteriors will blend toward the smaller scale of the townhouses. We’d like the exteriors to draw inspiration from a European village, perhaps even a fishing village as a nod to the buildings’ views of Howard Lake and Red Wing Pond. The design will be high-end and will match the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhood.
We do not plan to seek variances, environmental or otherwise.