A blighted area on the northeast side of Kokomo is being renovated into a subdivision that developers hope will make new home and land ownership possible for those who couldn’t afford it otherwise.
Jennifer O’Keefe and her business partner, Tupper Baker, purchased the former Woodland Estates and leveled the 30 acres to create The Oaks of Kokomo. They put in new utilities and subdivided the property into around 70 ready-to-sell lots buyers can pick out along with a customizable new home.
“Now you can come pick out your land and your home, and then as far as pricing goes, this is something that’s going to be more affordable to some buyers,” said O’Keefe.
The new homes start at $80 per square foot, nearly half the price per square foot as new construction in the Kokomo area, said O’Keefe, which falls around $150. This price point, O’Keefe said, was something Kokomo lacked.
Not only is the base price lower, but also the homes have upgraded features, something that’s uncommon in spec homes, she said.
“Plus that (price) includes tons of upgrades and high-quality homes, not just your standard spec home,” she said.
The idea for the project was birthed from a need O'Keefe has seen while working in the mobile home park sector. She and her business partner own parks in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, and more recently, they said they began to notice more and more people wanting to buy new homes. And while they could with some of their mobile home parks already, they didn’t own the land.
With that, O’Keefe, who already had been working in the Kokomo market, decided to launch the project in the City of Firsts.
“We definitely noticed a need for affordable housing in this area. There was not a market for this midrange home. We noticed housing was either $60,000 and below or $120,000 and above. I would even say closer to $200,000 and above for the new construction,” she said. “So we did our due diligence, and this really fit into this market and could be very attractive to the Chrysler plant workers, the GM workers, tons of industry here that could benefit from this affordable housing that we can offer. And it keeps them out of the rent rat-roll.”
The homes range from 1,000 square feet to 2,300 square feet and from three to five bedrooms. Buyers can design their home features to include everything from walk-in tile showers and soaking tubs to porches and decks.
The Oaks of Kokomo works with banks that specialize in manufactured housing, O’Keefe said, which offer low down payments, FHA loans, conventional loans, flexible terms, and approvals for those with lower credit scores.
With the property now cleaned up and brought to standard or above in terms of water and sewage, O’Keefe said she’s looking forward to seeing the community make it home.
“Hopefully this goes really well for our community and brings in lots of money. And if that’s the case and it starts to take off, we plan to do more of these projects hopefully here in Howard County,” O’Keefe said.
Virtual tours and photo galleries of the homes can be viewed at theoaksofkokomo.com. The property is located at 2212 County Road N. 250 E. in Kokomo. For more information, call 765-614-8807 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.