A new development near Salisbury City Park and Schumaker Pond could have some move-in-ready houses by spring of 2022 that will help ease Salisbury’s housing shortage.
The Greystone subdivision is “pretty far down the road” in the city’s approval process, with construction starting by the end of this year, said engineer Keith Iott, one of the partners in the project, along with Realtor John McClellan.
The development of 41 single-family houses is planned for a 13.4-acre property situated between Beaglin Park Drive and Schumaker Lane, with access off of Schumaker Lane. There will be roughly three houses per acre.
The land is a high, sandy site with a lot of mature trees that will be preserved wherever possible to avoid the look of a “soybean subdivision” on former farmland, McClellan said. Trees will only be cleared for houses, streets and common areas.
“We hope it will feel like a mature subdivision,” he said.
The project will be the first on the Lower Shore using an environmental site design for stormwater retention that will eliminate the need for ponds. The site also is served by city water and sewer services.
Iott said the land, which is zoned Residential 8A, could have been developed with more than 100 apartments or townhouses, but the partners opted for less density.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to build single-family homes,” he said.
Gemcraft Homes, the builder of subdivisions in Talbot, Dorchester and Accomack counties, as well as other locations in Maryland and Pennsylvania, will build the houses in the new Greystone subdivision, McClellan said.
The development is just one of several under way in the city where housing is in short supply and the real estate market is booming.
During the past three months, there has been an average of 138 home sales per month in Wicomico County, and houses within Salisbury city limits sell even faster, McClellan said.
“If it doesn’t have five offers by sundown, something’s wrong,” he said.
Mayor Jake Day said addressing the city’s housing shortage has become such a priority that he and other city officials are looking at ways to incentivize developers as well as ways to speed up the approvals process.
Their efforts date to 2017 when City Council members placed a moratorium on fees associated with new construction that had been enacted in 2006 during a real estate boom. During 2017 alone, the city waived $70,412 in fees which resulted in $55.5 million in new construction that year, city officials said at the time.
Since then, 120 single-family houses have been built and more are on the way, Day said.
At Hunters Crest off of Beaglin Park Drive, 35 houses were recently completed, according to the city’s Department of Infrastructure and Development.
Other developments of single-family homes in the planning and design phases are:
Developments with townhouses, duplexes and apartments in the planning and design phase are:
Day said 720 more apartment units will be added with the construction Downtown at former city-owned Lots 1 and 30, and at The Ross, a multi-story building planned for East Main Street. Developers for those projects are waiting for final approval from the Wicomico County Council of the Horizon tax credit program before work gets under way.
The increased demand for housing in Salisbury is coming mostly from young people relocating, mainly from the Washington, D.C., area. The primary demographic is in the 24-28-year-old age range, with children. Most are educated and from diverse backgrounds, Day said. There also are some younger people in the 21-24 age range.
The influx of newcomers to Salisbury is nothing new. “We’ve been a net migration place for the last 20 years,” Day said.
In addition to residential construction, commercial development and development of business parks are continuing, Day said.
“All of these potential developments will increase the tax base in the city,” he said.
The tax base will grow even more with several upcoming annexations, including Summersgate, a community for people 55 and older, which is planning to expand.
Salisbury has seen many periods of housing growth over the years, and the current one might be one for the record books.
“Housing is at one of the fastest paces in our history,” Day said.