Starting as the hobby of a seed collector, Happy Cat Farm has grown into a national distributor of both seeds and plants.
Green View Estates 1st “Green” Columbus Subdivision
Construction on the first house in the new Green View Estates subdivision off Mock Road in northeast Columbus is underway. About 30 houses, projected in the $120,000 to nearly $200,000 price range, may seem steep to residents. But construction will follow stringent energy efficient guidelines and environmentally-friendly building practices. Supporters say that when construction is complete the “green” additions in Green View Estates will make the subdivision unique in Columbus. They’ll also mean savings for the homeowner and a healthier place to live.
Bishop Edgar Posey is the pastor of Living Faith Apostolic Church on Mock Road in northeast Columbus. While he’s seen his church prosper over the years, the surrounding neighborhood, including local businesses, have slowly declined.
“Years ago there used to be a service station, a Kroger store down the street, drug stores was here – all pretty much have moved away,” Posey says.
But the congregation received a vision from the Lord, Posey says, and that led to the creation of a development company called MiraCit. Sharon Francis, the company’s director, says MiraCit stands for Miracle City.
“Before we had started our development there had been no new construction in well over ten or 15 years,” Francis says. “And as you know a community that is not either recycling itself or building new tends to decline, and that’s what we saw.”
Since MiraCit started almost 15 years ago, Francis says it’s helped in the building of more than 200 homes in the Mock Road area including the Hegemon Crest subdivision. Now it’s partnering with the city and several builders to create a new subdivision called Green View Estates.
The 11-acre tract is still just windswept bare ground with a holding pond in the center. A public housing project once stood here before it was bulldozed in the late 1990s. Many of the new lots are under contract and builders say construction will soon be underway. Supporters say Green View Estates is unique – it’s the first green subdivision in Columbus.
“We saw that it was beneficial to the people that we’re trying to serve,” Francis says, “giving them a more energy efficient and durable home; providing a healthy environment as far as air quality so the contractors are using a low emission type of paint. Things like that that you wouldn’t think of as having impact in people’s quality of life.”
Builders will use the same sort of low toxic emitting paint that’s now in the city’s premier green office building – the newly renovated Lazarus. But Green View Estates has its own green guidelines specific to home construction. Brian Lieburn, an executive with builder Sovereign Homes, describes one of the components that will keep indoor air cleaner.
“People open up the garage door, they back their car out, they close the garage door,” Lieburn says. “And the exhaust gases have a way of filtering back into the house so the homes in Green View Estates have a garage ventilation system. A fan will run for 15 minutes to remove the gases from the garage.”
All the homes in Green View Estates must have energy star rated dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators which lower the cost of monthly utilities. Other savings, according to Meera Parthasarathy, executive director of the Columbus Green Building Forum may be obvious, but she says people often fail to consider their impact over time.
“You have to be intelligent in the way you apply these technologies,” Parthasarathy says. “When you’re bumping up the insulation value in your home you can reduce your furnace and air conditioning size so you can have savings in those areas.”
Lower utility bills and a healthier indoor environment may not be things that Mock Road area residents have been used to in the past, but building green according to Parthasarathy makes sense when you do the math.
When people ask me about the cost of these homes, I give them the example of shopping at the grocery store, looking at the clearance items that you would buy or the organic food items,” she says. “What would you feed your family? And when you’re looking at buildings you have to look at the number of years that they’re going to be around. If you can make the building last 30 years longer that’s a lot of money that you have saved up front.”
Sharon Francis says MiraCit can’t take credit for mandating that the new subdivision be green. That idea, she says, came from the mayor’s office.
“I wanted to set a national example of providing a green residential development in an area that some may view as challenging but I view as an opportunity,” says Columbus Mayor Coleman.
Coleman assembled a group of advisors two years ago which he calls his green team. They’ve been involved in the new Lazarus renovation and the planning of Green View Estates. Sovereign Homes builder Ron Casteel says the marriage of a faith-based group with the city and private interests helps streamline the building process and lower costs. That helps, Casteel says, to serve the underserved population.
MiraCit and Living Faith Apostolic Church say the housing they help develop is open to anyone who qualifies not just church members. Pastor Edgar Posey says his congregation is working toward a larger purpose.
“If you redevelop the community, you have a more substantial community,” Posey says. “You have homeowners in the community more likely to take care of their properties and be more productive in the community.”