Lakeville's hot homebuilding market could be getting a lot hotter.
Mattamy Homes, a Canadian builder with a large presence in the Twin Cities, has proposed a housing development on more than 470 acres along Cedar Avenue south of Dodd Boulevard. Mattamy would develop the lots and build nearly 1,000 single-family homes and townhouses on the site over the next eight to 10 years.
If approved, the project would be the largest in Lakeville since 2005, when the city approved Spirit of Brandtjen Farm, a development that envisions about 2,000 homes on 520 acres near W. 170 Street and Pilot Knob Road.
In addition to homes, Mattamy's project also would include a clubhouse and small neighborhood parks sprinkled throughout the site. The city's current parks, trails and open space plan identifies a greenway corridor bisecting the site and a future 60-plus acre park to the south of the development.
The proposed project — which still doesn't have a name — is in the early stages, but Mattamy told city officials last week the company hopes it can get final approval next January and begin construction by the spring of 2015. The first phase would likely be a combination of about 200 single-family homes and townhouses.
Daren Laberee, Mattamy's land development manager, declined to specify the total price of the development but said it would likely be more than $100 million.
"This has been in the works for a long time," Laberee said. Discussions with two sets of landowners began more than a year ago, he said at a meeting with the City Council, Planning Commission and Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Committee.
Laberee said Mattamy is scheduled to close its purchase of one 312-acre parcel in the coming weeks. The land previously was owned by another housing developer but taken back by the lender several years ago. Laberee said Mattamy has a purchase agreement with a different owner for the remaining land.
Mattamy was the metro area's fifth-largest homebuilder in 2013, according to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC). But this will be the company's first foray into Lakeville, which in the past few years has been one of the most active homebuilding markets in the Twin Cities.
The city was the metro area's busiest community for single-family home construction in 2013, according to the latest figures from BATC. Lakeville recorded 365 homebuilding permits for the year, up from 261 in 2012.
Lakeville has continued to lead the Twin Cities area in homebuilding so far this year, with 82 single-family permits through the end of March.
Spirit of Brandtjen Farm has been a major contributor to Lakeville's recent robust homebuilding activity. Like the rest of the homebuilding market, Spirit bogged down during the economic downturn. But the project, overseen by Lakeville-based Tradition Development, has rebounded in the past few years.
Tradition Project Manager Jacob Fick said the development has 271 completed homes, with additional phases of both single-family homes and townhouses planned for 2014. More than 90 permits were issued in the development in 2013, and 17 have been issued so far this year, he said.
But even with strong activity in Lakeville by Tradition and other builders, Mattamy considers the community "an underserved market," Laberee said. Mattamy's market research indicates that demand is the heaviest for homes priced at $300,000 to $400,000. Laberee said about 75 percent of the homes in the proposed development would likely be priced in that range.
While Mattamy expects most buyers to be younger than 55, Laberee said the development would include row townhouses and detached townhouses — actually houses on smaller lots — that could appeal to older buyers. Both types of townhouses would be governed by their own homeowners' associations that would handle property maintenance like lawn mowing and snow removal, he said.