Jason Ward: The Reserve on Higgins Creek

Hearing the sounds of nail guns and hammers is like music to Jason Ward's ears. After he and his partners, the Ward Development Group, started The Reserve on Higgins Creek development in September 2007, they have become accustomed to these sounds.

Ward and his partners, all from the Spearfish area, saw early on the development potential for land on the northwest edge of Spearfish. When a new Interstate 90 interchange was constructed at Exit 8, they knew they could realize that potential. It was a prime location, offering easy access and great views of Crow Peak. The Ward Development Group took a proposal to the city council with high hopes. When asked if this was going to be an affordable development, the partners were unsure how to answer.

The group took it upon themselves to research affordable homes and contacted SDHDA. They found a way to construct affordable housing with the Rural Site Development Program. The program helped finance the project on the condition that 35 percent of the homes were priced as affordable housing, which was defined as $160,000 for both land and house.

Lots started selling and houses were being built quickly. "Before this development, the cheapest lots you could find in Spearfish were between $60,000 and $80,000. We were selling lots for $20,000," stated Ward. Now well-established, the development still falls in the affordable home category, with 60 percent of homes considered affordable housing.

The Ward Development Group feels they have exceeded their goals in developing affordable housing. The neighborhood has increased enrollment at Spearfish schools and has expanded the tax base. He expects the development to continue. "As long as the interest rates stay low, we will continue seeing this strong housing market. Spearfish is a very desirable place to live, and we still have over 150 lots to build on," Ward said.

When asked why he was such a strong believer in homeownership, Ward replied, "It's the American dream! I bought my first house right after college and it was the coolest thing. There is nothing better than looking forward to going home. Everyone should have the opportunity of owning a home, no matter how much money they make."