By BECKY KISER
Hays city commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to proceed with approving an RHID (Rural Housing Incentive District) for the vacated St. Joseph Catholic School, 210 W. 13th Street.
Atchison developer Justin Pregont, Frontier Apartments, LLC, plans to rehab the historic limestone structure into 12 one and two bedroom high quality apartments for moderate income renters.
Estimated total cost of the project is $2.18 million.
The RHID process is detailed, with the many steps in the process required by state law and the city's economic development policy.
Kim Rupp, Hays finance director, noted the project calendar requiring city commission action will continue through Jan. 8, 2022.
The public hearing for the proposed RHID is scheduled for Dec. 9.
"Also, one of the reasons the developer is able to apply for the RHID is because state statutes expanded to include preservation of historic buildings - or those older than 25 years - for residential use in a central business district," Rupp explained. "Improvements must be to the second floor of that property, or above."
The developer estimates that approximately $1.78 million of the total project costs are RHID-eligible expenses under state law and the city’s economic development policy. The RHID would generate approximately $450,000 in incremental property tax revenues over the 20-year term of the RHID.
An RHID is based on the findings in a housing needs analysis.
There is a shortage of quality housing in Hays, according to the 2017 survey by the Fort Hays State University Docking Institute.
"That shortage is expected to continue," Rupp told city commissioners, "and it's considered a deterrent to economic growth."
An updated Hays housing study has been conducted by the Docking Institute and the city received the preliminary analysis last week according to Toby Dougherty, city manager.
The developer is also requesting the city support an application for a $360,000 Moderate-Income Housing Grant (MIHG) administered by the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. Commissioners also unanimously approved the second request.
Both John Bird, city attorney, and the city's special legal counsel Gilmore & Bell P.C. have reviewed the request.
The housing needs findings and determinations will advance the statutory process for RHID creation financing.
Following publication, the RHID resolution will be sent to the Kansas Secretary of Commerce for approval to move forward with the creation process and further commission action.
In other business, commissioners:
* Heard an update on the Interstate 70 Exit 157 bridge replacement plan from Jonathan Marburger, JEO Consulting, Topeka, in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Transportation
* Heard a progress report from Collin Bielser, asst. city manager, of recent projects by city departments.
* Heard a preview of October events in Hays by Melissa Dixon, Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau exec. dir.
* Heard a proclamation by Sandy Jacobs, mayor, declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month with Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services based in Hays with an outreach office in Colby. The non-profit organization serves northwest Kansas.
* Declared Sept. 29, 2021 as "Sara Meitner Day" in Hays for her leadership and vision in opening the new ARC (Accessible Recreation Complex) at 33rd and Hillcrest.