Home construction is happening all over Christian County’s map. A 3D version might look a bit like a Monopoly board game—each tiny, brightly-colored plastic house a representation of an actual home where a real family will put down roots.
There’s no way a Monopoly board, however, could account for all the new homes going up in 2019.
“The trends for residential construction are extremely high right now,” Christian County Assessor Danny Gray told the Headliner News. “When I ran totals the other day, we’d already done $20 million in new construction this year, so there’s a good chance we’re going to be at $35-$37 million this year, which are big numbers.”
Where is all of this construction taking place, and does the county have the supporting infrastructure like roads and utilities for it?
On Ozark’s side of the Monopoly board, construction is spread out, Ozark Public Works Director Jeremy Parsons says. He thinks about the city as if it’s divided into three sections up Highway 65: the Walmart interchange, the Jackson Street interchange and the State Route CC interchange, where larger developments typically appear.
“Development really wants to occur up there, simply because over 80 percent of our residents work in Springfield,” Parsons says. “Those lots on the north side sell more quickly.”
That’s where Old World Estates, a housing development on the old Ozark airport property, is currently being constructed.
“That’s a very large development—north of 300 lots when it’s all said and done,” Parsons says.
As for the rest of the city, construction will soon take place toward the northeast end, developments are wrapping up at its center, and Ozark is beginning to see preliminary plats for the southern area, off of Sixth and Warren Avenues, too. Both the central and south areas are the ones the city hopes to focus on in the future, in order to avoid what Parsons calls “retail leakage,” Ozark residents taking their money to spend elsewhere, like Springfield.
“We put in a lot of effort and a lot of infrastructure dollars into preparing the south for growth. For planning purposes, it just feels like on the south side and central, people are more likely to shop in Ozark if they live there,” Parsons adds. “There’s like this magic line between Jackson Street and the Highway CC exit.”
Ozark has other goals for growth. A couple are finding better ways to showcase the Finley River, in order to appeal to more home buyers, and connecting communities with trails.
There’s also the desire to fill in the space that surrounds Ozark’s neighborhoods, so that the city can take full advantage of its infrastructure. Parsons said Ozark in good shape with water, gas and electric utilities.
“We took this shotgun approach to development,” Parsons explains. “All these easy parcels—and when I say easy, I mean easily-developed parcels—were taken over, and now we have these huge, green fields that have yet to be developed. We’re trying to concentrate on those areas.”
To the west, the Monopoly board of Nixa shows more compact neighborhoods. Most of the homes are the on eastern side, though the city still has plenty of room for upcoming development toward the west and south, Nixa Public Works Director Doug Colvin says.
“As far as public works go, too, we’re in very good shape right now,” Colvin says. “Our electric, water and sewer are all in good shape. We have very good wells and excess storage capacity on the water side.”
As far as roads go, however, Colvin says adjustments are needed, so the city is partnered with the Missouri Department of Transportation for future improvements.
According to Gray, there are other concerns to think about besides infrastructure when it comes to growth.
“Here’s the other side of that: you’ve got police, you’ve got other services that will have to supply all that, too,” Gray says.
Time will tell how Christian County handles an influx of residents, he says. In 2019, he estimates 700 new homes.
“Last year, we were at about 525,” Gray said. “We’ve been trending up a lot since 2013.”
The trick is to follow it and keep a close watch.
“At some point,” Colvin says, “all of us are trying to get out ahead of it.”