A prominent regional home builder is banking on the hopes that the housing market in the Middletown area is on the verge of bouncing back.

A prominent regional home builder is banking on the hopes that the housing market in the Middletown area is on the verge of bouncing back.

Cornell Homes of Media, Pa., announced last week that it expects to complete the remaining 66 homes approved for construction in the 192-unit Willow Grove Mill townhouse community off of Gloucester Boulevard over the next couple of years.

"We're definitely seeing signs of recovery in Middletown and we have high expectations for the new models we're building here," Matthew Egan, Cornell's vice president of construction and development, said this week. "This was a great opportunity for us to enter an agreement with a developer for paved/improved lots, which is perfect in this type of market."

Cornell Homes took over the project from the original builder, Anderson Homes, in January, following a two-year lull in new home construction at Willow Grove Mill.

Since then, it has overseen the construction of eight new townhouses, including a model home unit. Six of those properties have already reached settlement, according to Brooke Green, a sales manager with Cornell Homes.

Construction on four more townhouses is slated to begin on Wilmore Drive this fall, with another eight homes on Sherbourne Drive scheduled to be built next spring.

Cornell Homes, which was purchase by the national homebuilder and home-finance lender Ryland Group in July, believes the two- and three-story models that it's building in the Middletown are ideal for first-time buyers.

"First, the price is reasonable," Egan said. "And second the location is ideal with it being so close to Route 1, as well as all the amenities that are available in Middletown."

The standard townhouse being built at Willow Grove Mill – marketed under the name The Clarkson – is a two-story, three-bedroom home with 1,600 square feet that includes 2.5 bathrooms, in addition to a single-car garage. The standard unit sells for $196,990 with end units available for $206,990.

Two major options to the standard unit also are available, including a 100-square-foot rear sun room that adds about $12,000 to the asking price and a nearly 400-square-foot third-floor loft that can be added for an extra $25,000.

All units come upholstered with a gas furnace, a 40-gallon electric water heater, fully-carpeted pine stairs, a second-floor laundry room, carriage-style garage doors, 42-inch oak kitchen cabinets, Whirlpool appliances and an Insinkerator garbage disposal.

"Right now, we're also offering a $2,500 incentive through Pike Creek Mortgage that can be applied either toward closing costs or on the options," Green said during a Friday ribbon-cutting at the model home sponsored by the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce. "We're hoping events like this help get our name out in the community and give us the exposure that will continue to drive sales."

Cornell Homes' model home in the Willow Grove Mill neighborhood is open for tours seven days a week with hours from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. No appointments are needed.