In a time of high demand and limited supply of homes to buy, a new housing project is underway near the Carlisle Area High School campus that will provide a short-term inventory boost for the Cumberland County seat.
Mechanicsburg-based Hutch Homes Inc. has started building a speculative home in the 18-lot neighborhood off Meeting House Road, dubbed Meeting House Heights. The spec home, priced at $322,900, is the first home to go up in the neighborhood, which will have a mix of three- and four-bedroom homes.
The new cluster of homes represents the final phase of a Meeting House subdivision project that began in the 1970s. Homes in Meeting House Heights will start at $277,900.
“Even before it started, there was interest from several families,” said Realtor Andrew Kronenberg of Keller Williams of Central PA, the exclusive broker on the residential tract. “I suspect that with the lack of inventory and continued high buyer demand that these lots should move quickly.”
Builders have been eyeing up Carlisle and surrounding municipalities as large-scale projects in the high-growth Cumberland Valley townships of Silver Spring and Hampden have been winding down. Land also is getting harder to find for new housing projects, which has driven up prices.
Regulations on land development also pose a chronic challenge to starting new projects. Builders have long said that permitting takes too much time, there are too many layers of regulations between local, state and federal agencies, and it’s gotten more expensive.
Many builders remain unwilling to risk developing land on their own after the last financial crisis. Instead, smaller builders buy lots from developers as they need them.
Indeed, that’s how this new Hutch Homes project came together, Kronenberg said. And these new homes, all single-family lots, offer an alternative to the recent townhouses and apartment projects that have gotten started as part of the mixed-use redevelopment efforts of former factory sites near Route 11 and the Carlisle Fairgrounds.
“I think you will see expansion around the whole (Carlisle) area,” Kronenberg said, citing housing and retail growth that is expected to stem from a long-discussed connector road between York and Trindle roads in South Middleton Township.
Cumberland County has been the fastest-growing county in the commonwealth this decade. Cumberland County saw its population rise by 6.2 percent between 2010 and 2017, topping Centre County, which grew 5.6 percent, and Lehigh County, at 4.8 percent, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.