Hobart's Lake George

Adults with disabilities from Skokie, Illinois-based social service agency Search Inc. paddle a canoe last spring on Hobart's Lake George. Hobart is embarking on a push to draw higher-end new-home construction to the city to capitalize on its many amenities.

HOBART — Don't call Hobart a bedroom community.

“We're far from that," Mayor Brian Snedecor said.

The city's success in attracting retail and light industrial businesses has created many job opportunities there. That, and the amenities Hobart has to offer — quality schools, a low crime rate, a quaint downtown, Lake George and regular special events — have made the city a desirous place to live, Snedecor said.

Although the city has the features people are seeking when choosing where to locate, Hobart is short on available higher-end housing, he said.

Hobart officials are making a push for more residential development in the city, and that has included meeting with area developers to pique their interest in building in Hobart.

Snedecor said there are some challenges in attracting new home construction.

He said the city is unique because there are three different school districts that reach into the city, and the availability of undeveloped properties within the School City of Hobart’s boundaries is limited.

Snedecor said there is interest in several of those sites. The more attention they receive could affect the price for those properties.

Understanding of the costs associated with new residential construction, the city is exploring possible incentives it could offer to spur more home development, Snedecor said.

That could include assistance with utilities and possible incentives for purchasers, he said.

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Developer Randy Hall said he is well aware Snedecor is seeking higher-end housing in Hobart.

“I think there’s some way we can support him,” Hall said.

Hall continues planning for the Cressmoor development that will bring single- and multi-family homes to 113 acres of property west of Rand Street and Lake Park Avenue. The development also will include a commercial area and storage units.

Plans for Cressmoor initially were approved by the city in 2007.

“Hall’s vision is a real plus for that area,” Snedecor said. He believes the project will have a positive impact on surrounding residential properties there.

The economy has played a role in delaying construction of Cressmoor, and multiple extensions of the 2007 approval have been granted since then.

The city’s approval of the development currently is valid until May, and Hall is in the midst of seeking another one-year extension. He told the Plan Commission last week there is “a strong desire to get a shovel in the ground this year.”

A reason for the latest extension, which could receive final approval from the City Council on April 18, is a sanitary sewer project Hobart is planning.

That work could put a new sewer through the northern boundary of Hall’s property, and that could require additional engineering for the Cressmoor site, he said. Starting construction in Cressmoor would have to wait until the sewer project is finished.

City Engineer Phil Gralik said the city’s intent is to have sewer built and operational by Thanksgiving.

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