Developers: Justus Property Management and town of Walkerton

Architect: Granite Ridge Builders

Major Funders: Great Lakes Capital Fund; Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority; town of Walkerton; Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis; 1st Source Bank

It took 12 years to transform a decayed subdivision into this brand-new community.

“Our community had a dream to redevelop our blighted area,” says Phil Buckmaster, economic director for Walkerton, Ind., a farm town with fewer than 3,000 people.

Built in the 1940s for workers at a munitions plant, the homes in the West York subdivision were supposed to be demolished after World War II. Instead they were sold to returning veterans.

The un-insulated walls were made with 2-by-2-inch studs—heating bills were routinely higher than the rent. The narrow streets were just 10 feet wide—fire trucks or large ambulances couldn't fit. Years passed, and most of the homes became rentals. About 78 percent of local emergency calls came from West York.

The redevelopment team tore down the remaining 80 tiny, decayed homes and laid down a street plan lined with 40 new affordable single-family homes carefully built to meet federal Energy Star standards and available to low-income families for rent or lease-to-purchase.

Finished in April, the new Dogwood Estates cost $12.5 million, which included $4.3 million to acquire the old homes from multiple owners, with help from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The cost also included $2.5 million to relocate 80 households into other housing as well as to tear down old houses and lay down new streets. Residents signed leases and moved in as quickly as the homes were finished.

“It came together better than I ever could have imagined,” says Buckmaster.