Now that the Vinton City Council has tentatively approved a preliminary plat for the new Anderson Creek Estates subdivision, John Ketchen says efforts to turn farmland south of Vinton-Shellsburg High School into a subdivision with dozens of houses will proceed “full speed ahead.”

Ketchen said work is likely to begin within the next month or so, and even continue through the winter, and hopes to begin pouring the streets in late April or May of next year. In addition to obtaining city approval, the project also received a boost when the first two infrastructure bids came in lower than the engineer’s estimate.

Just south Vinton-Shellsburg High School, on parcels of land either donated by John Anderson or left in the trust of the late John “J.W.” Fry, the development may see the digging and pouring of basements and the beginning of framing of houses within several weeks, says Ketchen.

Ketchen, trustee who his helping to manage the Fry property, says that is the goal of the trustees to create a three-phase subdivision that includes houses, villa-style homes, and apartments, as well as a few spaces for commercial properties.

Street names to honor schools

Streets in the new development will be called Viking Drive. Homecoming Court, and Blue Jay Lane. These, said Ketchen, are designed to honor the connection and proximity of the land to the high school, as well as the history of John and Bev Anderson, who were married 60 years before Bev died in 2012.

“John was the football captain; Bev was Homecoming Queen,” says Ketchen, who also adds that the Blue Jay street name honors both an earlier school name for its sports teams as well as Bev’s love of songbirds.

Earlier this year, the Vinton-Shellsburg School Board agreed to ask the state to allow the city of Vinton to annex a five-acre strip of land for the subdivision. St. Mary’s Church is also involved in the discussion because a small, triangle-shaped piece of land owned by the church is also part of the annexation.

“The school board understands there is interest in the land for development,” explains Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock. “Because they understand the need to have more houses (and thus kids) in our district, they are woring to partner with John and the group he represents.”

Ketchen explains that Fry, in his will, left a very valuable combination of land and other assets in a trust which is designed to benefit Virginia Gay Hospital. But, he also explains that no hospital funds will ever be used for the housing development.

Although he never met Mr. Fry, Ketchen says he believes the late farmer would be thrilled to see what is becoming of the land he left decades ago.

Along with farming, J.W. Fry owned Fry Motor Company in Vinton from 1929-1937. JW Fry died in 1968; his wife, Alma, a decade later.

While navigating the annexation process, Ketchen and those he is working include the city, county and others on preparing the land for housing. Ketchen has spoken to city leaders about extending water and sewer lines to the area.

“We are still working on who will pay for what and how it will be paid,” says Ketchen. “We are working hard to keep the costs down.”

Plans call for he development to have two entrances to the road that leads to 2nd Avenue south of the High School, as well as a bike path and retention pond. Phase one is the normal housing lot area; Ketchen says he expects those lots to cost in the $40,000-$45,000 range. Lots for the villa-style homes will be about $10,000 cheaper.

Just south of the Fry estate property is land donated to the hospital by John Anderson. While the new housing development is on Fry land, Anderson has indicated a willingness to work with Ketchen should the development grow to the south.