By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
GREAT BEND — Housing Opportunities Inc. publicly announced last October a new housing development that was going to create a four-phase project directly east of The University of Kansas Health System – Great Bend Campus and south of Walmart.
HOI announced receiving nearly $6 million from the Kansas
Housing Resources Corporation for the project, referred to as Cambridge
Phase one of the development includes a 28-unit, low-income project that would give Sunflower Diversified Services first rights to rent the apartments for their clients. Sunflower helps children and adults with developmental disabilities.
HOI purchased 24 acres of land from a group of local doctors that currently sits out of city limits. Receiving funds and tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, HOI recognized the tax rebate program is more beneficial to stay within the county and not be annexed into Great Bend city limits.
HOI Executive Director Callie Miller said HOI is not opposed to being annexed into the city limits but would prefer to stay in the township.
At a Great Bend City Council work session Monday night, there was question from the city council on developing housing from HOI, which receives discounted tax rates, meaning the city or county would not receive the full amount of property taxes.
Currently, the property is zoned for agriculture and brings in approximately $2,500 from property taxes each year. Once developed, the first phase of the project would generate more than $14,000 in property taxes if the lot is annexed into the city. A large pond used for drainage, roughly eight acres, would also collect taxes.
Miller discussed possibly tapping into the city’s utilities. One pushback
Miller received was a housing study for Great Bend showed more low-income
housing was not needed, but moderate-income housing was.
"The moderate-income roles are a lot different," said Miller. "We can apply for and administer the low-income awards all on our own. Moderate income is required to go through a city or a county and you're capped at $600,000. It's not enough for an entire project. We may get two buildings out of that. We'd have to secure some other financing to make it work."
Miller noted potentially turning the second and third phases of development on the property into moderate-income housing.
Another issue, is the lift station nearby the property pumping sewage that the Cambridge Park development would need to connect to. With a good portion of the west side of Great Bend connected to this lift station, city officials were not certain the station could withstand the new development. Great Bend agreed to spend $8,000 for a controller to be placed on the pump to perform a study on its usage.
Sunflower Interim Executive Director Shelby Zuniga said by Sunflower clients moving into the low-income complex, the move would free up 15 rental houses in town, including two large group homes on Eisenhower Avenue.
"In the group home setting, the homes we own right now are two-story," said Zuniga. "A lot of the individuals are wheelchair bound. Having new facilities on one level is a huge benefit. The other homes in the community, some of the clients are living in very substandard conditions."
If Sunflower clients do not fill all the occupancies, other low-income qualifying community members could rent the units.
The parties left the work session Monday night waiting to find out results from the sanitary sewer study for the lift station.
Listen below to the full discussion from the Great Bend City Council work session on HOI Cambridge Park on July 18.