Master-planned community in east Madras

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Two homes, a cedar home in the foreground and a stucco home in the background, are under construction on Yarrow Avenue in Yarrow, a master-planned community on the east side of Madras.Envisioned as an upscale housing development with a variety of amenities, Yarrow is beginning to live up to its early promise.

Three new homes are under construction, one was recently completed, and two more are planned in the scenic east Madras development, which now boasts 11 homes.

First conceived by the city and Bean Foundation in 2004, one year later, Yarrow had a commitment from three well-known developers — Brooks Resources, Taylor Northwest, and Eagle Crest — to plan the 880-acre community.

The three builders, under the name Madras Land Development Co., rolled out their plans in 2006 at a community meeting. The impressive plans included preserving over 100 acres for open space, 15 acres for parks, seven miles of trails, and a 150-acre golf course.

Unfortunately, by the time the first house was sold in 2008, the country was in the midst of the Great Recession. City-issued residential building permits, which had peaked at an all-time high of 254 in 2005, had dropped down to seven for all of 2008.

At the end of 2009, Brooks Resources Corp., the developer of NorthWest Crossing, in Bend, and IronHorse, in Prineville, acquired the other firms' interests in Yarrow, became the sole owner of the Madras Land Development Co., and renegotiated terms of the agreement to reflect market conditions.

"It was a business decision for our former two partners to sell their ownership, and we were happy to become the sole owner," said Romy Mortenson, vice president of sales and marketing for Brooks Resources.

The Bend-based company, which has seen an improved market for homes in Bend over the past year, is finally seeing that improvement reaching its Madras properties. Mortenson said that they "have definitely seen more traffic and sales in Yarrow this year than we have in the last several years."

"We are thrilled with the progress of construction taking place in the neighborhood," she said. "We have a handful of custom homes that are just being completed this summer, and several more in the design review process."

Since 2008, when the first property was sold, broker Kathy Duman has been closely associated with the Yarrow development — at first operating out of an on-site office, then moving to the Coldwell Banker office, and finally, to Eagle Crest Properties, in Redmond. Duman is pleased to see the market finally rebounding.

"It's very exciting," said Duman. "It's been a long time coming."

In the first two phases of the development, there are a total of 141 lots, ranging in size from about 6,000 square feet up to three-quarters of an acre (32,670 square feet). Twelve of those lots have been consolidated and enlarged from the original size, with prices ranging from $25,000 to $65,000.

Of the 141 lots, 29 have been sold to individuals, with another 53 to MLDC, and at least 55 to other developers, according to information provided by the Jefferson County Assessor's Office.

Currently, there are 11 finished homes in Yarrow, three of which are on consolidated lots. Another eight of the 12 consolidated lots have been sold, and one is still owned by MLDC.

Longtime Madras residents Dean and Barb Brooks recently moved into their new home on one of the larger lots, and are enjoying living inside the city limits.

"It's very quiet," said Dean Brooks. "We're used to living on Highway 26 on the Plains. The quiet's very nice."

"I love the view," commented Barb Brooks. "We can see all the mountains from our front porch."

Earlier this month, Brooks Resources got Yarrow residents together for a picnic at the neighborhood park on Yarrow Avenue and Honeysuckle Loop.

"We just hosted a homeowner potluck picnic in Crescent Park, where owners gathered to meet the development and management team from Brooks Resources, as well as have the chance to meet residents and property owners in the neighborhood," said Mortenson. "It was a huge success and we will most likely do that on an annual basis. We are proud to see the pride of ownership our owners express and the dedication and passion they have about the neighborhood."

The homes, which range in size from 1,300 to 3,000 square feet, have been built by Sun Forest Construction, Sage Builders, SunWest Builders and Phil Henderson Homes.

Phil Henderson, formerly of Sun Forest, has finished one home and is in the process of building two more homes in Yarrow. "I think it's a great layout for homes," said Henderson, who has spoken with other property owners that are planning to build in the coming year.

"It's a great place to build up here," said Henderson, who has opened an office in Madras. "It has really nice views of the mountains — anywhere from Mount Hood to Jefferson to the Three Sisters. I like it up here."

In the city of Madras, Yarrow is one of only two subdivisions with ongoing construction. "The only area where we're seeing other single-family dwellings being built would be the Morning Crest subdivision off 16th Street," said Nick Snead, director of the Madras Community Development Department.

"Market conditions are improving for developers," said Snead, noting that three homes have been permitted this year — the most for a single year since 2008. "Land costs are down, and construction costs are down."

Although development has slowed dramatically since the city signed agreements with the Bean Foundation and the MLDC, Snead said, "We still have the master plan in place."

As the development unfolds over the next 15-20 years, it is expected to have 1,300 or more residential lots available when all the property is brought into the city limits and developed. More amenities will follow the development.

"Parks, open space, infrastructure — it's all development driven," said Snead.

While many of the buyers have been from the Madras area, according to Mortenson, "we have also seen several from other areas in Oregon or outside of the state who are looking for a small town atmosphere with a quality neighborhood and home product."

"Many are baby boomers who have just retired, or are about to retire, and have selected Yarrow for their next home because of the beauty, the tranquility, and the sense of community that is developing," she said. "The Madras location is great for folks who enjoy the outdoors and want to be close to Portland for the urban setting and resources."

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