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Planners consider high-end addition

– NPT Development Corp. is embarking on what would be the final phase of a housing project worth at least $36 million to cater to medical professionals.

Fort Wayne businessman Joe Zehr intends to develop 20 additional lots at Hawthorne Park Estates, a high-end subdivision on the south side of Crawford Road near Parkview Regional Medical Center. The $535 million medical center was completed last March at Interstate 69 and Dupont Road.

It was July 2011 when Zehr got initial approval to build 59 homes – some pegged at $1 million.

The subdivision could grow to 73 houses with an average cost of $600,000, said Zehr, president of NPT Development.

Zehr said he expects to break ground next year.

He submitted his plans before a Wednesday deadline filing with the Allen County Department of Planning Services.

“This phase with the houses included would be a $12 million investment,” Zehr said. “The homes are filling up, and we feel (confident enough) to move ahead.”

Ever since Parkview Health made the regional center its flagship complex for the most serious cases, developers have been scrambling to provide medical workers with homes, retail establishments and other services to what is becoming an affluent area.

Parkview Health is the largest employer in northeast Indiana with 12 facilities employing 8,300.

Residents of neighboring Hawthorne Park were worried over construction traffic, safety, noise and related disturbances during construction. Zehr has said he would set up a barricade that wouldn’t allow earth-moving equipment to drive through neighborhoods during primary work on the project.

Homes will span at least 2,600 to 4,000 square feet and cost $450,000 to $900,000.

The Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne reported that the single-family home construction permits last year in Allen County recorded a modest increase over 2011 with a 1.6 percent uptick or 691 requests to build.

Last year, Allen County had 1,586 foreclosures, an increase of 30 percent from 2011.

Despite that, the average sales price last year rose nearly 22 percent to $226,058.

The Allen County Plan Commission will consider Zehr’s request in coming weeks.