Grayson County’s current need for housing coupled with the influx of people expected when Finisar Corp. starts operations this year could attract national homebuilders to the area.
Sherman City Manager Robby Hefton said the regional and national homebuilders who have done business in southern Grayson County and northern Collin County are aware of housing needs in the greater Sherman area, though the local market might not yet be right for them.
“I know we’re on the radar of a lot of national builders,” Hefton said. “You have to have the economy to scale for them to come here. They’re not going to come here and build 30 houses or 40, they want to build 230 or 530 (houses) — large tracts, hundreds of acres. We’ll see.”
Finisar, an optical communications components manufacturer, announced plans last month to begin producing vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers for Apple and its iPhone products at its Sherman facility in the former MEMC building. The company initially announced it plans to hire 500 employees for new high-skill jobs in Sherman, but Hefton said a tax abatement application Finisar filed with the city shows that job number has already grown to 587.
Local builder Joe Gilbert with Joe Gilbert Construction said it is possible national homebuilders could come to the area in the wake of the Finisar announcement.
“However, with the amount of residential developments that are in the planning stages now and the local builders that are involved in those, I think at some point in 2018, our inventory will catch up with our demand,” Gilbert said.
Sherman Director of Adminstration Terrence Steele said the city is in a “good spot right now” and called Sherman a “hot market.”
“It’s my understanding that several huge developers are looking at Sherman,” Steele said. “But my thing is, that’s a prospect. I can’t worry about the prospects. What I need to do is (look at) what can we do to excite the ones (developers) that are on the ground.”
Simon Keizer, investor relations and director of operations for Integrity Custom Homes, said, in the wake of the Finisar announcement, he believes there is going to be a significant market for the boutique style homes with a price point above $250,000 that his company does. Keizer said his company is looking to follow up its recent work in Denison’s Gateway Village with development work in Sherman.
“We want to be on the front end of being, kind of, that Dallas-based builder that’s coming up here to Sherman and doing what we do well,” Keizer said. “And honestly we want to bring a little more variety to the personality of residential construction in the community. We have a passion to bring revitalization and kind of bringing the front porch community back. We don’t just want to build streets and homes, we want to build community.”
Keizer said in addition to new construction, Integrity Custom Homes does remodels, development, infill construction and historic restoration, but is most interested in the FM “1417 corridor” in west Sherman. He said he believes the Finisar announcement could help build momentum in the Sherman area to get more new homes built.
“Although we office out of McKinney, I live in Sherman, been here a long time and our owner lives in Denison, so we’ve been in the area,” Keizer said. “When we bring investors up from Collin County and Dallas, it’s an easy sell. But talking to Sherman people about Sherman, it’s been a hard sell.”
Hefton explained a large employer like Finisar bringing in this many primary jobs usually means secondary jobs — such as waiters, store clerks and workers at supporting companies for large industries — will also be created in the area.
“While we know that 600 jobs — plus or minus — are going to be coming with Finisar, we don’t know what other things that may spawn,” Hefton said of other companies possibly following Finisar to the area. “We have a plastics plant here that supports Sunny Delight and some of the other industries. They’re here because we have other primary employers that use their products to either finish their product and ship it out or it’s a complimentary product.”