WOOD RIVER | Officials are hoping an eyesore will soon become an eye-catcher for the city.
The Wood River City Council on Monday approved the final plat of a planned subdivision on the site of the former Lincoln School building, 450 N. Wood River Ave. The subdivision, being built by Lantz Homes, Inc., will feature nine homes of varying sizes.
The plat approval was one of the final steps in the redevelopment of the property that began last year. That was when the vacant school building was donated to the city by its previous owner, and the city subsequently demolished the building due to unsafe conditions.
In April, the council accepted a proposal from Lantz for construction of the subdivision. Under the proposal, the city donated the property to the construction company, and Public Services Director Steve Palen worked with Lantz officials and engineers to design the layout.
Wood River Mayor Frank Akers said with the final plans approved, construction could start any day.
“We would hope to get it started within the next couple of weeks,” Akers said. “The city has a little bit of work to do in terms of tapping on the water lines and the sewer lines, and we’re getting ready to do that. So, whenever (owner Jeff) Lantz wants to start building, he’s welcome to.”
The property was divided into nine lots: Three 8,450-square-foot lots which will face West Beach Avenue to the north; four 8,593-square-foot lots facing east along North Wood River Avenue; and two 12,675-square-foot lots that will border Carstens Avenue to the south. Two alleys will be included as well, one between the West Beach Avenue and Carstens Avenue homes and one to the west of the North Wood River Avenue houses.
The plan is for Lantz to initially build two homes and sell them, doing two at a time until the subdivision is complete and inhabited.
“The idea would be that, over a period of maybe two to three years, the lot would be completely taken,” Akers said.
Before demolition, the school building had sat empty in recent years. Akers called it an “eyesore,” and at the April meeting, councilwoman Cheryl Maguire noted the city’s longstanding desire to get the area cleaned up.
Akers said he hopes the new development will have a ripple effect on the community.
“What we think will happen, where these new homes will be there, that will give people incentive to fix up the existing houses that are in the neighborhood figuring that property values are going up,” Akers said. “So, that will help out that area of town. We think it will be great.”
Councilman Tom Stalcup said he’s excited about the property’s development.
“I think it’s great,” Stalcup said. “We were very fortunate to get our hands on it and turn it into some new residences. We’re really looking forward to it.”