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Million-dollar homes on the horizon?

Tim Thone, of Thone Development, has developed land in Woodbury for more than 30 years. His next project "Woodbury Estates" will feature high-end homes in a rural part of Woodbury.1 / 2
Submitted photo2 / 2

Will 61 acres of rural land south of Bielenberg Sports Center be home to the newest million dollar houses in Woodbury?

A local real estate developer is hoping his plans to develop 20 single family lots in southern Woodbury will have that rural combined with urban lifestyle feel, in an upscale, high-end fashion.

Tim Thone, who owns acreage all over Woodbury, plans to submit an application in February to the city for "Woodbury Estates".

Growing up in Woodbury, Thone began working in construction right out of high school. He became a real estate developer later and acquired 15 subdivisions around Woodbury, including Valley Crest and Carver Lake Meadows, in the 1980s and 90s. Buying, trading and selling real estate for more than 30 years, Thone can easily get a feel for what buyers want and in which part of town.

He bought the 61 acres north of Glen Road and south of Military Road, about one mile south of East Ridge High School and the Bielenberg Sports Center, and sat patient until the market improved.

"No one has done this since Salem Meadows in 1980," he said of Woodbury Estates. "I think there is a pent-up demand for acreage and custom homes."

Thone bought the three parcels from the former farmland owners in 2009, but said it wasn't the right time to start developing the homes which will start at $700,000 and go up to $1 million-plus.

Now that the local economy has stabilized and plans for a nearby shopping center, Bielenberg Gardens, are coming together, Thone said he's almost ready to submit his application to the city.

The biggest driver for Woodbury Estates though, is the addition of the Interstate 494-Bailey Road interchange, he said.

"You've got your rural (home) and you're minutes from downtown St. Paul," Thone said, adding, "The times and conditions are right for me to do this rural subdivision."

The area is zoned "R-2" or rural estate, which means it's not possible to connect it to municipal utilities because of the nature of the land. It is identified as R-2 in the city's Comprehensive Plan and will always be left out of the typical urban development pattern.

Thone's plan includes individual septic, sewer and water systems for each of the 20 homes.

If approved by the city, Thone will work with Custom One Homes, a company known for building high end homes, for the design.

Each of the 20 houses will be built on anywhere between 2.5 to 4 acres.

"The developer is attempting to attract executive type buyers," Woodbury Senior Planner Eric Searles said. "And we believe there is a market for that buyer."

The width of each of those lots is about three times as wide as a typical single family lot and also three times as deep, Searles added.

Searles said staff is still working through the review process of the application before it goes to Planning Commission in February.

If approved, Thone said he expects to begin construction in the early summer of 2013.

Growing up in Woodbury, Thone has watched the city grow and develop.

With a passion for developing real estate, Thone said he was lucky to grow up and work in a city like Woodbury.

"If I had a passion to be a farmer, it would've been the wrong place to grow up," he said.

The fact that this part of town is zoned rural estate makes it unique, he said. It will also benefit from being so close to the future neighborhood grocery store and shopping center, a remodeled and expanded Bielenberg Sports Center and the Bailey Road-Interstate 494 Interchange.

"It's an island in the city that will always be rural," Thone said, adding that it will attract buyers looking for the privacy of rural living and the convenience of an urban suburb.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.