Tony Montalbano Sr. believes the real estate market is bouncing back.
Montalbano, a 36-year veteran of the real estate industry, owns Montgomery Homes with his son, Tony Jr. Last year, they purchased the Fieldstone Place subdivision, on either side of Briarcliff Road south of Montgomery Road, and on Thursday, they announced their intention to continue building it out, starting in the second half of this year.
“I think the market is starting to turn around,” Montalbano said. “And by the time we get started building, it will be better.”
The younger Montalbano addressed the Montgomery Plan Commission on Thursday, asking for an amendment to a special use granted to Fieldstone Place’s original developers, the now-defunct Grand Pointe Homes.
Montgomery Homes plans to construct single-family homes on the 17 undeveloped lots on the west side of Briarcliff, but Montalbano Jr. said the company doesn’t have the rights to the Grand Pointe designs, and will have to build its own. So they’re seeking permission to use different elevations, and build their own designs—seven different models, ranging from 1,603 to 2,950 square feet.
Everything else, including landscaping plans, would remain the same, Montalbano Jr. said.
“We want to keep the community looking the way it does,” he said. “We don’t want 17 different kinds of houses. We want to make it seamless throughout.”
The Montalbanos have had a front-row seat for the ups and downs of the housing market in the past few years. Montalbano Jr. said the pair’s company, Montalbano Homes, once built 1,000 new homes a year—500 in Illinois, and 500 in Arizona. But when the market tanked, they were left holding a lot of land.
But now, they say, the market is rebounding enough to justify building again. They’re not alone, according to Village Manager Anne Marie Gaura, who said several other subdivisions, including Foxmoor and Blackberry Crossing West, have seen new construction recently. This project is more public, she said, because of the variance requested.
According to village records, the drop in building permits has tapered off since the market tumbled in 2008—the village saw 1,207 permits pulled in 2007, 865 in 2008, and 604 in 2009, but then only slight drops in the next two years: 603 in 2010 and 569 in 2011.
Gaura said she believes Montgomery’s building permit rate is strong compared to the village’s neighbors. And she said Montgomery was fortunate—when the market collapsed, most of the village’s developments were either complete or close to it.
“We’re excited,” she said of Montalbano’s proposal. “It’s a positive sign that things are trending upward.”
The village still holds a $792,985 performance bond with Grand Pointe, which covers public improvements that remain unfinished, and Village Attorney Steve Andersson said he is still pursuing a payout.
Montgomery Homes’ proposal was unanimously recommended by the Plan Commission, and will go before the Village Board’s Committee of the Whole on Tuesday.
Full Disclosure: Montgomery Patch Editor Andre Salles is a resident of Fieldstone Place.