September 6, 2022
It’s not a matter of if you build it they will come. They are already here and need it built now.
There is an increased demand for housing in Defiance County as residents have come to the county because of jobs, its great quality of life, schools and other factors.
Officials with the towns and villages in the county are all eager to meet prospective real estate developers and have many different incentives in place to help make developments happen.
Here is a look at three of the communities in the county and what they have to offer.
The village has it all for anyone wanting to live here, but of course “housing is an issue,” according to Mayor Ron Jones.
“The best thing (here) is the small town atmosphere,” praised Jones. “We are 20 minutes away from anything in Fort Wayne and 30 minutes from Defiance. We have a great school, a hospital, great park system. We have the theater (Huber Opera House and Civic Center and lots of good restaurants. Housing is the issue.”
The village also has a lot of industries. The workforce needs places to live.
“I’d love just to see single family homes (come in),” Jones confided. “We have the CRA (Community Reinvestment Area) for the whole town. …. I know that other communities have that, but it’s only in certain areas. Hicksville - it’s the whole town, no matter where you build, even commercial (properties).”
The village also has purchased land, already plotted and annexed into the city – primed for a developer.
“The street is already started,” Jones stated about Labar Drive. “We are trying to sell that to a developer and put in water/sewer infrastructure. We have the land. We’re pushing to be developed. There is up to 54 lots plotted right now. It’s ready to go.”
Jones added that there are a few people who inquire about starting little housing additions as well.
“There are several little places (around town), where a street is started,” he said. “There is room to be expanded.… The potential is there.”
Jones said the problem has been getting builders to come to the village. He has been in contact with several and is currently reaching outside of the state.
“I’d show them the potential (here),” he promised, adding schooling is a big thing. “They want to make sure there is a good school like Hicksville has. We have the jobs. The bottom line is they spend that kind of money (to develop properties) they want to sell the houses.”
That won’t be a problem as Hicksville as its assets continues to attract residents.
“You look at the downtown,” Jones said. “You go through smaller towns and there’s not much there. There are a few storefronts that are for sale, but our downtown is full.”
He stressed officials currently are working on putting in walking trails – one near Labar Drive and another around the village park. The Hicksville Foundation is working to put in a splash pad, while the village is planning a new pool all to make life better fore residents.
Those are all prime reasons more housing is needed in the village.
Even during COVID, the village of Sherwood continued to grow.
“The community – it’s a great place to live,” said Mayor Jack Stantz. “It’s a friendly town. The school system is good. It’s a growing community.”
Stantz remarked that Sherwood is the center of Defiance County and close to U.S. 24 for easy commutes. It’s an ideal location for potential residents and real estate developers as more residential projects are needed.
“It would be great to get an apartment complex,” Stantz proclaimed. “Right now, we are getting single family homes built.”
He stated that a few developer are waiting to see if a local solar project is approved before moving forward.
Village officials are eager to work with potential developers and have tax increment financings (TIFs) in place. Stantz said that village officials are working with the Defiance County Economic Development Office on incentive packages for any real estate projects. They are just waiting to hear from developers.
“The biggest thing is that there is land around (for development), but we need to know if they are interested (and) if the farmers are interested (in selling),” Stantz explained. “There is 50 acre on the edge of town for development right now.”
Stantz commented that Sherwood offers several great things for potential real estate developers. The village will be constructing a new water tower and is nearly finished building its new fire station.
“We’re close to 24 and have a good school system,” Stantz stated. “We’ve got the railroad in town. It’s a good place to live, and people are friendly. We’re a good community.”
The county seat of Defiance offers a lot to prospective residents and developers. The city is enticing with its many employment opportunities, restaurants, parks, school system and other amenities.
“We have market studies that show we have the demand,” Mayor Mike McCann remarked of housing.
He said home prices are a little depressed in the area compared to larger cities so many developers may choose to build elsewhere. Those developers who come to Defiance will find eager buyers and be able to sell their homes quickly, however.
Some real estate projects currently are underway. Work is progressing on the planned Defiance Place Apartments project, which will be located on more than 50 acres off of North Clinton Street. Dirt on that complex will be moved this spring.
There is a great need for more housing in Defiance, however.
“We’re looking for single-family homes, multi-family homes,” McCann stressed. “We still need housing for our senior side. We definitely have a need for workforce housing.”
The city of Defiance offers several incentives to encourage real estate developers to have projects there.
“We have come up with a couple of TIFs,” McCann stated. “We’re excited to share those with a residential developer. When we told it to the bond council folks they said ‘it’s a good idea. We don’t know why more communities don’t do it.”
McCann stressed that city officials are more than willing to work with real estate developers from both in and out of the state on potential projects.
There are many great reasons for developers and residents to come to Defiance.
“Interesting enough, we recently had a meeting with some Japanese folks (the consul general of Japan) and when I asked what most interested them (in a city), they centered on three things I’m most interested in,” McCann reflected. “The first was safety and crime. Defiance has a really low crime rate.”
In 2021, Safety.com ranked Defiance as the 19th safest municipality in Ohio.
The second thing officials discussed was education.
“We have a great school facility, good teachers and students,” McCann boasted. “The third thing was health care. We have great medical facilities with Mercy and ProMedica.”
Safety, schools and health care all contribute greatly to quality of life for residents.
“That’s what we’re trying to give people – a great quality of life,” McCann beamed of Defiance.
It’s somewhere people want to live. More housing is needed to meet the demand however.
Defiance County is attracting a lot of residents and now needs the attention of real estate developers.
Anyone interested in real estate development in Defiance County is encouraged to contact the various municipalities or the Defiance County Economic Development Office at 419-784-4471 for more information.