No fear of a tough economy

 Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
 John Rogers stands in his "field of dreams."

Economic times may be tough, but businessman John Rogers only sees it as challenge to overcome.

The Lithopolis resident and owner of Rogers Basement Waterproofing is also a land developer and owns tracts throughout the rolling local countryside. His latest endeavor, Hawk’s Nest, is his first foray into actual development with the 16-lot community off Lithopolis-Winchester Road.

Located less than a mile and a half from both Lithopolis and Canal Winchester, Hawk’s Nest is named for the fauna calling the area home. It is situated within the Bloom-Carroll school system and features lot sizes from 1.6-acres up to 2.74-acres.

One man’s vision

"People told me I’m either a moron or Houdini and asked how I could build something like this in (an economic) time like this," said Rogers as he looked out over asphalt-covered roads carved through a summer-green field. "I said people still have the American dream, people still have jobs, people are still buying things, and people still want to live in the country.

"Originally, I was just going to flip the property, but the deal fell through.  I decided I was going to develop the property myself, but I didn’t know anything about building a development. I used smaller contractors and the village of Lithopolis has been great. The mayor is very bright, open, and honest. It’s so much easier to develop a property in a smaller town because of the communication."

One mistake Rogers learned from the process is not to begin a construction project toward the end of the year.

"We started into this late last fall," commented Rogers, "but the weather set in, then in the spring the rains came. People thought we were through, but we had to stop because you can’t move mud. When the weather got better, things picked up and so we just got done four weeks ago."

"Ross Perot said, ‘Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one-yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown,’" continued Rogers. "That’s been my motto. I grew up in West Virginia and we never owned a home. I had a good life, but we moved 17 times in 18 years. When I was older, I hitchhiked to Columbus because I didn’t have anything. I worked hard to get where I am today and there are other people like me out there with their own dreams."

As a blue heron circled overhead and a flock of geese honked their way across the sky, Rogers said what gave him the confidence to push ahead with the Hawk’s Nest development was the idea that people desire the idyllic life of living in the country, but still want the convenience of city amenities.

People are already buying into Rogers’ vision. Three of the lots are sold and his own 110-acre homestead is within two driving miles of Hawk’s Nest.

"This is a decent, God-loving community," continued Rogers, "and people still want the American dream. By the way the crow flys, I only live a quarter mile away. I’m their neighbor and this is the best of both worlds. This isn’t a housing development; this is a community."

To protect the rural nature of the property, Rogers said he implemented deed restrictions including ranch-style houses no smaller than 2,300-square-feet and no less than 2,800-square feet for two story homes. Above ground pools are not allowed. Lots range in price from $69,000 to $99,000 and property owners contract with their own builder. City water and natural gas lines service the property.

Lithopolis sees growth

Despite a gloomy housing market in other communities throughout central Ohio, things are looking up in Lithopolis.

Mayor Eric Sandine said the village has not experienced a high foreclosure rate, such as ones reported in Columbus, and new home building permits are up for the year.

"In 2007, we only had one to two building permits," said Sandine. "This year we’re already at seven, working on two more, and expect another two to three by the end of the year.  We have our own police force and I think that helps considerably over other areas. We offer something for everyone, from 5,000-square-foot to two-acre lots. We hope to see groundbreaking this year on Bishop’s Run, which is mostly commercial property. We have the whole gamut here in Lithopolis."

For information on Hawk’s Nest, call Rogers at 519-4006 or 237-0488.

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