A visit to the Sagewood and Quail Run subdivisions in the north part of the Elkhorn area reveals change — the change from rural countryside to suburbia.
And it's a neighborhood in transition. Most of the children living there will attend Sagewood Elementary School, one of two new elementary schools opening this year in the Elkhorn Public Schools.
To the delight of area parents, Sagewood Elementary, located on 177th Street just south of Fort Street, will alleviate the crowding at Manchester Elementary, which their children would have attended if not for the new school. Elkhorn Grandview Middle School is under construction a stone's throw away from Sagewood Elementary and is scheduled to open in fall 2014.
It's easy to see why the schools are so important. Almost all the people we talked to were in their 20s through 40s and had school-age children.
The subdivisions around the school seem to meld into one another and are difficult to separate.
The oldest homes in Quail Run were built about 10 years ago. That subdivision looks more developed than most of Sagewood, which has had a rocky past — its initial developers filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Celebrity Homes took over ownership and building has restarted. Compared with Quail Run, Sagewood has a lot of open lots.
At a recent open house at Sagewood Elementary, hundreds of children and parents showed up to check out the new building and to eat picnic food on the playground, even as dark clouds looked like rain was imminent. Everyone seemed thrilled with the school.
Many of the people we talked to said they were drawn to the area because of the school district, the sense of community in the Elkhorn area and the convenience of having everything they needed close by at shopping centers and medical buildings — while still feeling like they lived in a rural area.
Noreen Stibbs, a new resident from Mason City, Iowa, recently moved into her duplex with daughters, Meghan Vieregger, 18, and Caitlin Vieregger, 22. The three of them chose the house because they liked the area, liked Celebrity Homes and its extras, and liked that it was a straight shot down Dodge for the two young women to attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
As a teacher in Bellevue, nearby resident Jill Johnson faces a long drive every day, but she doesn't mind. She and her family — husband Andrew, children Wells, Lennon and Evan, and dog Jack — love the area.
“We specifically moved here for the schools. It's been wonderful,” she said. “We're super excited about the new school.”
Brian Seely works in Council Bluffs and his wife, Annette, works in Fremont. “This is the halfway point,” he said, adding: “We lucked out. A lot of our neighbors have kids our children's ages. We didn't realize it when we moved in.”
All of them can see the area is changing and the neighborhood's still growing.
“We moved into one of the first houses out here,” said Casey Munn, who has lived in Quail Run for 10 years and agrees that houses are filling in the open spaces.
He doesn't regret his family's move out so far, and he praised the city services the neighborhood receives. “They're excellent. They're always prompt to plow.”
“We don't often see police,” he said, quickly adding, “which is good.”
Abby Sekle moved to the area with her husband, Euloge, eight years ago. They have three children.
In addition to being safe and peaceful, Sekle said, the best thing about the area is, “it's very family-oriented.”
Info: The Neighborhood
Area around the new Sagewood Elementary School in the Elkhorn district; primarily Sagewood and Quail Run subdivisions between Fort Street and West Maple Road, 168th to 177th Streets
• Young — Most of the residents we encountered were young couples with children. They live in houses built in the past decade or more recently.
• Quiet — It's a housing development, but it definitely feels like you're out in the country. No roaring engines or traffic noises (apparently it was noisy with fireworks around the Fourth of July, however).
Generally two stories in every developer's favorite colors: earthy browns, yellows, grays and greens. They're single-family homes with several duplexes mixed in. Celebrity Homes bought all the lots around the new school — house prices on the developer's website range from $120,000 to $250,000. In Sagewood, many houses still are under construction and there are empty lots.
Who lives here?
The following census data come from a larger sampling than just the neighborhood we selected and include some of the areas around it.
• Median age: 30.4 years
• Racial makeup: 85 percent white, 6 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic
• Owner-occupied homes: 87%
• Median house price in 2012: $140,000
• Average house price in 2012: $179,150
The newest houses have grass in the yards but only very small trees or no trees at all. Older homes have trees and shrubs five to 10 years old, and many have flowers.
Residents say they know of little crime outside of some graffiti and minor things. They say police and fire response to emergencies is swift and problem-free.
Not a lot of traffic, especially in the Sagewood section right around the school (that probably will change a lot once school starts). Not many cars parked on the streets. Dog walkers and joggers take advantage, as do bike riders and a few skateboarders. There are plenty of speed bumps.
Parents are happy their kids will be in Sagewood school and no longer have to cross busy West Maple Road to attend Manchester Elementary.
If you like being in the city but feeling like you live in the country, this area is perfect. There's plenty of shopping and other amenities nearby. The views are amazing.
The views probably won't last, as fast as the area is growing. If you work closer to downtown Omaha, you have a long commute — at least by Omaha standards — no matter what route you take.
Why move here? Most say the schools drew them here, either the new schools specifically or Elkhorn Public Schools in general.
Some small play areas are scattered throughout the area, but many families will take advantage of the playground equipment at Sagewood Elementary.
A swimming pool was supposed to open in 2007 but never was built.
Some houses also have been turned into rentals.
Most excited about
Dam Site 15A across Fort Street from the Sagewood development. Construction is scheduled to begin this year on the 225-acre, 2-mile-long lake and city park project. Though controlling downstream flooding along Papio Creek is the primary reason for the dam, the project also will bring outdoor recreation to the area with fishing, a boat ramp, trails and picnic areas.
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