Additional water features and a large natural space being discussed as more lots continue to sell

    If you watch House Hunters on HGTV, you know that for many would-be home-buyers, the view and nearby amenities are almost as important as the house itself.   

    The view and the overall natural appeal of the area has been a selling point in Bob Herkenhoff's Nature's View Estates housing development in Crookston's northeast corner since the day he envisioned it. While the homes that would be built and purchased along Barrette Street and Eickhof Boulevard would have views of the street from the front, it was the view from the rear of the houses that was the big attraction. With the Minnesota DNR's blessing, Herkenhoff has been dredging the borrow-pit used during the construction of Highland School so that it will serve as a sort of man-made pond, and before the pond becomes a reality it's apparent with a quick glance that the pond area is undergoing a transformation.   

    Whether it's that or something else, increasing interest in building homes and living in Nature's View Estates prompted the city Planning Commission to recently approve a third plat that includes additional lots. Herkenhoff's realtor, Shirley Iverson with Greenberg Realty, tells the Times that two of the additional lots, 150 by 200 feet each, have already sold, for $35,000 each, with closing dates set for next week. Negotiations to sell a third lot, 125 by 200 feet in size, are underway, and a fourth lot is available for $29,000.   

    Iverson also reports that there will be some core drilling samples taken this summer as part of an exploration into a possible "second water feature" in the development. Iverson, who's co-leader of the Crookston Splash Park initiative, said there's a chance that the splash park could somehow be tied to the overall pond plan in Nature's View Estates, but that's just a talking point at this stage. Castle Park remains a possible location as well.   

    But there's more than water in play, Iverson said. "Bob continues to develop and refine a natural space at the back of the lots in the development with sculpted hills planted with prairie grasses, wildflowers, an aerated pond, sand beach, granite boulders and a mowed walking path," she explained. "There is much more to come as Bob works with the city, state and federal partners to develop more community recreation space on the north edge of the property."   

    CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth said that when "market demand" is a primary driving force behind a project like Nature's View Estates, all kind of good things are possible. "That's a fantastic scenario," he said. "And, of course, the results of our housing study have us moving on numerous fronts, and Nature's View Estates is certainly one of those pieces. Good things are happening there."   

    Hoiseth has been in on several of Herkenhoff's meetings with the Minnesota DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "We are hopeful that some exciting and very attractive items can be added to the property," he said. "Our desire is to provide for greater public utilization, deliver a unique product for Crookston, and strengthen our partnership with the University."