Emporia City Commissioners approved a resolution declaring intent to establish the Pleasant Point Rural Housing Incentive District during a Wednesday evening action session.
The RHID program, which passed in 1998, was designed to help developers build housing in Kansas cities with populations less than 40,000 located in counties with populations of less than 60,000. Counties with total populations less than 40,000 are also eligible.
The proposed district — located on an empty lot between Oak and Elm streets along Seventh Avenue — would be divided into 10 lots for development, according to City Consultant Jim Witt.
Developers Francis Springman, Stan Grimwood, Luke Schnakenberg, Aaron Trelc, John Paul Sandstrom and Jerry Olmstead have formed BMAC Enterprises for the project.
“It’s an infill project, and six local investors have taken this on,” Witt said.
Witt said Wednesday’s approval would give the city 45 days to distribute information to taxing entities about the proposed district ahead of a public hearing, which will be held Jan. 8, 2020.
“This is not a large infrastructure project since there are no streets that need to be built,” Witt said. “They are going to replace curbs and gutters, sidewalks, they’ll do some electrical and some dirt work. Total improvement costs are estimated to be around $150,000, which is pretty low.”
The homes, Witt said, would be priced between $175,000 - $200,000. A quick search of online property records shows this would be a significant increase from existing home values in the immediate area.
Commissioner Rob Gilligan said he was not concerned about the difference in home values.
“I really couldn’t tell you how that compares to what’s in the neighborhood,” he said. “I think the developers have looked at the city and said there’s an opportunity to develop homes at that price point in the style and quality that they will be able to build for that. That’s what gives them that kind of repayment period.”
Gilligan said that, ideally, an infill development would bring up the overall “quality” of a neighborhood by inspiring other homeowners to make improvements and investments to their properties.
“That district could certainly use some investment, but it’s also one of the few large open areas that still exists inside the core of the main part of the community, so I’m excited that this group has taken that on,” he said.
Following the Jan. 8 public hearing, Gilligan said the city would then decide on whether or not to proceed with the district. If the city does decide to move ahead, Witt said development could begin as soon as spring 2020.
“It sounds like the developers are really ready to get things going,” Gilligan said.
Commissioners also approved the issuance of General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $800,000 to pay for the Arundel Street sewer main repair project. A 36-inch section of clay tile pipe along the South Arundel Street sewer failed in June after a heavy amount of rain, prompting the need for the repairs.
After reviewing options, it was determined that moving the sewer line was the best long-term solution.
“What it will do is decrease and eliminate the need for aerial crossings,” Gilligan said. “It’s a very positive, long-term solution for the community.”
The city will be applying for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for portions of the repairs, because it was the result of flooding.
The city also:
• Approved an ordinance request for a beer garden during the Big Chill Finish Line Party, to be held from 7:30 a.m. - noon Dec. 7 in the parking lot behind 618 Commercial St.
• Approved authorization to begin an Administrative Services Only health plan, which will potentially save the city $100,000 toward its health insurance costs within the first year. Employees will see no changes to their coverage.
• Approved the amended Building and Construction Regulations.
• Accepted a permanent drainage easement between the city and Crestview Lakes 6 Association.