BARSTOW A new housing development will begin construction soon and city officials hope more residents will be able to afford to buy their own home in Barstow.

The Planning Commission approved the construction of two new model homes on Bluebird Lane, near the intersection of Muriel Drive and Zion Drive, at its meeting Jan. 10. The development was originally supposed to have about 80 homes, but the original developer, Century Vintage Homes, only built on about 20 of the lots. Williams Homes, Inc. bought the rest of the development and plans to develop 58 new homes in the area.

The model homes will begin construction in February and will take about 60 days to complete, said Keith Herren, executive vice president for Williams Homes. Construction on the rest of the development depends on how many homes the company is able to sell. The homes will be from 1,400 to 1,800 square feet and will range in price from $159,000 to $179,000.

City officials said the construction of new homes is a positive sign for the city and hope that more people will be able to afford homes in Barstow instead living in the Victor Valley.

"It's been my opinion that we need new homes here," said Councilman Tim Silva. "With some well-priced new construction, I hope that people will choose to live here and I hope that development sells overnight."

Other City Council members feel that the new development might mean that the economy is turning around.

Councilman Tim Saenz said he hopes the developers are building the homes because they anticipate a new upswing in the economy in the year ahead.

Planning Commissioner Bob Clemmer said he hoped that the construction of new homes in Barstow meant that more people would both live and work in Barstow.