Homebuilders Ken Cooper and Andy Horn captured the public’s fancy with their Hidden Valley subdivision of upscale homes. Now Cooper is returning to the U.S. Highway 84 corridor with The West End, a 400-acre master-planned community featuring large lots and residences starting at $300,000.
Cooper, joined by a lineup of custom builders, broke ground Friday on the project at Val Verde Road and West Highway 84. The acreage lies just inside the Midway Independent School District and, for now, Waco’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. Cooper said negotiations continue with the city over annexing the site in the near future, making utilities available.
“There will be a variety of lot sizes and price ranges that will eventually represent over $250 million in home values on approximately 600 lots,” Cooper said in a statement to the Tribune-Herald.
The development will include a trail system “that will tie the development together to a central community center,” as well as playgrounds and tennis courts, he said.
The first phase will have sites for 52 new homes, Cooper said.
“This is really exciting because we’re talking about lots from one-third to one-half an acre, and there are not a whole lot of those,” said Waco homebuilder Scott Bland, who estimates he will place three to five homes in Phase 1.
“Homebuilding goes in cycles, and the current cycle focuses on increased density, putting as many homes as you possibly can on a site. There’s a good reason for that, and I understand,” Bland said. “This is a very nice subdivision in that homebuilders, and homeowners, get a little more room.”
Lots will sell for $70,000 to $100,000, with those dotted with trees fetching higher prices, Cooper said. A huge oak towers above a one-acre tract he sold to a couple from Keller who are consulting with Cooper on house designs.
Other builders interested in placing homes at West End include Jeff Irwin, Steve Sorrells, Jason Peavy, David Oates and Jason Cooper, who is with John Houston Custom Homes. Ken Cooper said David Hicks attended the groundbreaking for American Bank, which is providing financing.
Cooper said site work and infrastructure for Phase 1 will cost $3 million.
“This subdivision will be ongoing numerous years, as long as people keep moving to Waco,” said Peavy, a custom homebuilder. “I have a steady influx of clients looking for nice-sized homes. There’s a shortage of larger lots within the corridor, and that’s where Ken Cooper’s development kind of fills a hole. I’m hearing half-acre lots, some even larger than that.”
Homes will run 2,500 to 2,800 square feet, “and go up from there,” and market demand for homes that size is healthy, Peavy said.
“We have people locally looking for something different after being cooped up in their houses a couple of months,” Peavy said. “And we’ve got people coming in from out-of-town, some from out-of-state. Interest rates are historically low. You can buy a whole lot more house.”
Hicks said American Bank views West End as a solid complement to nearby subdivisions.
“We view this as a quality investment, a wonderful complement to Stone Creek, Hidden Valley, Twin Rivers, and a really good addition to that area of town,” Hicks said. “At the top is Ken Cooper, whom I’ve known for 40 years. He has a long track record of doing things right. He’s assembled an impressive site over many years. It’s unique, beautiful and in a superb location.”
He said the homeowners involved also have sterling reputations.
“They are serving themselves well to be getting in early,” he said. “You don’t assemble pieces of property like this very often.”
City planning director Clint Peters confirmed Waco is considering a development agreement with Cooper that includes voluntary annexation. He said extending water and sewer service to the site would be a provision of the agreement.
“They will pay us back over time as the lots are developed,” Peters said, quoting a $2,000-per-lot rate for sewer, a yet undetermined rate for water.
“Annexation will come pretty quickly, by the end of the year or early next year, before they start building houses,” he said.
Continued development along Highway 84 has the attention of regional policy groups including the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“We’re looking at the entire corridor, from Waco to McGregor, as needing freeway design,” MPO Executive Director Chris Evilia said. “Obviously there is not enough money to take an approach like that. But completing the overpass at Speegleville Road and 84 was important to this development.
“Capacity-wise, Highway 84 is probably OK. The concern we have involves all the crossing traffic and turning movements. When you get out to Val Verde Road, the speed limit starts going up a bit. There may be safety concerns TxDOT (the Texas Department of Transportation) will have to look at once this gets going.”
Cooper said the sky is the limit on home prices in West End, judging by what has transpired in Hidden Valley over a quarter-decade.
“In 1994, we bought 35 acres, then bought more and more. It became a well respected addition, probably has 350 homes now. There are no lots left for sale, though some are owned by individuals who haven’t yet developed them. A lot with no trees, I’m guessing, would be no less than $115,000.”
Some houses there “cost well over a million dollars,” he said.
The West End site, located about 1,500 feet from U.S. Highway 84 and a walk from the former Val Verde campgrounds, represents a “blank canvas,” and he intends to give it the attention to detail it deserves, Cooper said.
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