EARLY — A developer’s proposal to build a townhome development in Early moved forward Tuesday when city council members approved the developer’s bid to buy a 3.3-acre tract of city-owned land.
    Council members voted unanimously to sell the property at the intersection of Early and Industrial boulevards, where the townhomes will be located, to Trafalgar Homes of Stephenville for $80,000. The land had been appraised at $82,500, and Trafalgar Homes submitted the lone bid, City Administrator Tony Aaron told council members.
    Trafalgar Homes is the same company that is building a townhouse development in Brownwood.
    Both developments, which will consist of one- and two-bedroom units, will rent at market rates and will not be income-based.
    Trafalgar Homes president Andy Hansen, accompanied by project manager Wes Bishop, told council members the company is committed to building 33 townhomes in Phase 1 of what will be known as Longhorn Townhomes. A total of 48 could be built in Phase 1 because the property could not be easily divided for 33, Hansen told council members.
    A second phase would add about 50 more townhomes, Hansen said. “If we were to totally build it out, this is going to come in around an $8 or $9 million project,” Hansen said. “It’s a significant revenue source for us and the city.”
    The hope is to break ground in as early as a month, Hansen said.
    “We were very pleased that the bid was approved,” Hansen said. “The next stage for us is to get the land under contract and set up a closing.”
    In the meantime the company will review the results of a housing study commissioned by the Brownwood Municipal Development District, which are expected to be available later this month, Hansen said.
    “We want to review that and confirm all of our assumptions, that there is a demand for this in the market,” Hansen said.
    He said the monthly rent will probably be in the “$850 to $1,000 range” for the Early townhomes and slightly higher in Brownwood because those townhomes will have a few more amenities.
    Council member Janice Bush said she’s seen a Trafalgar Home development in Stephenville and “it’s really nice.”
    “Thank you for considering Early for your next development,” Mayor Bob Magnum said.
    Aaron said earlier Trafalgar Homes had approached the city about the possibility of building the townhomes. Hansen made an earlier presentation to the Early City Council about a possible $2.5 million development of three buildings that would contain 11 townhomes each, Aaron said.
    Of the 33 total townhomes, 21 would be two-bedroom and 12 would consist of one-bedroom homes, Aaron said.
    A $2.5 million development would generate about $64,000 a year in tax revenue —$14,000 to the city, nearly $35,000 to the Early school district and about $15,000 to Brown County, Aaron said. It would also generate an additional $35,000 a year in utility revenue to the city.
    "These are market value (homes), not income-based," Aaron said.
    The impact to the city would be "huge," Aaron said. "Just like Brownwood, it's been a long time for the City of Early to have market-based townhomes."
    In November, Brownwood City Council members approved an agreement between the city and Jenca Land Co., a Hansen entity, to build at least 110 market-rate rental townhomes called Indian Creek Townhomes at Indian Creek and Milam.
    “We’ve got infrastructure in, we’ve got some utilities, we’ve got some drainage, some storm drainage that’s been done," Hansen said of the Brownwood development.

"A horizontal plan’s been done, which means we’ve identified the locations of the buildings. We’ve done the pad sites on four to six buildings, and we’re at the stage right now where we’re ready to go to concrete. We hope to have concrete poured on some of those buildings in the next couple of weeks. So we’ll start framing in the next two weeks after that.”
    Aaron said the 3.3-acre property had been owned by the Early Economic Development Corp. and went to the city after the voters approved the dissolving of the EDC and the creation of the Early Municipal Development District. Aaron said he will recommend that the council place the money from the sale of the land with the Municipal Development District.