It’s “full speed ahead” in the process of turning land donated by two of Vinton’s most successful farmers into a new housing development, says John Ketchen.

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 five or six basements and the beginning of framing of houses above them by this fall, says John 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.

The property is currently outside city limits, but the process of voluntary annexation is under way. The Vinton-Shellsburg School Board also agreed to ask the state to annex a five-acre strip of land as well. That five acres is likely to become part of that 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 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 will work to partner with John Ketchen 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.

Although he never met Mr. Fry, Ketchen says he believed 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.

Along with navigating the annexation process, Ketchen and those he is working with are working with 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.

Saying that Anderson has been “instrumental”  in helping with the housing development, Ketchen says he hopes the not-yet-named subdivision will eventually have a name that honors the Anderson family.

There is much more work ahead, says Ketchen.