People looking for housing in Palestine are about to have 136 more options: On Monday, Nov. 25, a new $7.8-million apartment complex, Willow Creek, opens off S. Loop 256.
It's about time, too. Palestine has suffered a severe housing shortage, especially in rentals, for at least a decade.
Property Manager Joan Baker is confident pent-up demand will fill up Willow Creek Apartments quickly, despite critics who say $815 to $1,325 a month is too pricey for this area.
“I was the property manager on a similar project that opened in Paris, Texas last year,” she said. “The residents there had the same concerns as in Palestine; but we filled up the units in less than three weeks after opening.”
Kristy Wages, a broker at Palestine Realty, said Willow Creek entered the local rental market at just the right time.
“This community is in a seller's market, because there are only so many homes available,” Wages said. “This has created a tremendous rental market; Willow Creek couldn't have chosen a more perfect time to offer these types of affordable homes to our community.”
Sixteen units – 14 of them are already taken – will open for occupancy in less than two weeks. Two more buildings, with roughly 30 more units, will open next month.
Baker estimates all 136 Willow Creek units will open by March; pre-leasing is available now.
Including the first building, 25 pre-leases have already been signed: the remaining one- to three-bedroom apartments are up for grabs.
That's good news for residents who have wanted a change, or people moving to the area, City Manager Leslie Cloer told the Herald-Press.
“When I first moved here, it was hard to find a place that was move-in ready,” she said. “I'm truly excited to have good, new, quality apartments coming to this town.”
Willow Creek Apartments, on Daman Allen Way, broke ground in September of last year.
Officials for the contractor, GVD Construction, of Sulphur Springs, said construction on the $7.8-million project will complete nearly on-schedule, despite heavy rain earlier this year.
Amenities in the gated complex will include nine-foot ceilings, granite kitchen countertops, wood-grain floors, high-end fixtures and lighting, a fitness center, resort-style swimming pool, children's playground, and fenced dog park.
All but the playground and dog park will open by Nov. 25.
City officials are counting on the project to generate property and sales taxes for city coffers. Despite five-year incentives of roughly $14,000 annually, the complex is expected to pay the city more than $55,000 a year in property taxes.
Local realtor Martha Paxton, of 1st Realty Texas Living, told the Herald-Press she's excited.
“There will always be a need for good rental properties,” she said. “There are enough buyers and renters out there that this won't affect my business at all. I'm happy for the city, and for Willow Creek's future residents.”
For more information, call Joan Baker at 903-480-0470.