Affordable-housing project coming to Hillsboro

This large area of property at the corner of Third and Lincoln streets will become the location of four duplex units, following approval of a tax-credit proposal put forward by Mark Cox, of Vintage Construction, LLC. Cox will build six duplexes in all, the fifth along the 300 block of North Ash and the sixth on a lot in the 300 block of South Cedar. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

It appears additional affordable housing will be coming to Hillsboro in the near future.

Following a public hearing during its May 19 meeting, the Hillsboro City Council approved two purchase agreements. and is negotiating a third agreement. to acquire locations for six duplexes.

With city support, Mark Cox, of Vintage Construc?tion, LLC, has been approved for tax credits for six duplexes, or 12 total residential units. These would be three-bedroom, two-bath units with a family room in the basement and a living room, dining room and kitchen on the main floor, according to Mayor Delores Dalke.

?They?re really pretty attractive,? Dalke said. ?And each one has a one-car attached garage.?

The plan is to build four of the duplexes on the city-owned lot at the corner Third and Lincoln streets. But to secure enough area to do so, the council agreed to buy back the south 75 feet of that expanded lot, which it had sold earlier to a private individual.

According to Dalke, the city sold the land for $8,500, but the purchaser decided later not to build on it. He then sold it for $3,500 to Keith and Lila Ratzlaff, who agreed recently to sell it back to the city for $5,000.

A fifth duplex will be built on the west side of the 200 block of North Ash Street on an open lot owned by the city.

The city currently is negotiating with owner of an open lot in the 300 block of South Cedar Street on which to build the sixth duplex.

?Because I?ve talked about these, I?ve been contacted already by some people here in town who have relatives who would be interested in moving here if these were built?which is exactly what we need,? Dalke said ?We need more people to live in Hillsboro.?

While she has discussed the project publicly, Dalke, who is a real estate broker, said she has no personal business interest in the project, nor will she be involved in finding renters for the units.

The project will be managed by Mid-Kansas Com?munity Action Pro?gram, a not-for-profit organization.

?Rents are based on income, and there?s different stages based on what you?re income is in comparison to the average person in Marion County,? Dalke said. ?Most of the rents will be between $485 and $515.?

Mid-CAP also will take care of the lawns at each location.

Dalke said the units will be rented for 15 years; at the end of 15 years, the units will be available for purchase.

?People who have lived there will get a percentage of the rent that they have paid, against the sale price, which will be the price that they are appraised at the time,? Dalke said. ?They can either buy it or continue to rent.?

All of the units will be on the city?s tax role. In addition to the property-tax revenue, Dalke said the city will no longer have to absorb the cost of mowing and maintaining the lots the city has owned.

Sidewalk project

The council also approved resolutions that could lead to Community Development Building Grant funding that would pay 90 percent of an estimated $349,750 needed to put in new sidewalks along First Street (from Main to Adams) and along Birch, Cedar and Date streets (from Grand Avenue to D Street).

Rose May Saunders, representing Ranson Financial Consultants, said the Kan?sas Department of Commerce recently created a $14 million special-projects fund to which cities with at least 51 percent low-to-median income can apply for funding that can be used for sidewalks, playground equip?ment, storm shelters or combinations thereof.

Although Hillsboro, as a city, surpasses the LMI requirement, particular areas of the city do qualify, according to City Admini?strator Larry Paine.

The areas targeted for sidewalks are the same areas that qualified for recent street-replacement projects that were funded in part with CDBG money.

?The CDBG project for First Street and Birch, Cedar and Date, those wage surveys we had are still valid,? Paine said. ?We don?t have to go back and requalify for that project area. It?s already qualified.?

While many CDBG projects for community facilities are 75-25 cost-shares between state and city, this one is 90-10 share with a maximum grant of $350,000, Saunders said.

Saunders said the state will announce the grant awards in mid-July.

?Once the contract is awarded from the state, we have nine months to be under a construction contract, and the project has to be closed out within 18 months of the grant award,? she added.

Saunders said the process could move forward quickly enough to see construction in late summer or fall, or it may be delayed until the first of the year.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? heard Paine report that the city had sent out notices to affected residences in regard to the Safe Routes to School project scheduled to begin June 1.

?A portion on A Street will be totally closed off to access, but the other addresses along the street will have the ability to get traffic to and from,? he said.

?Part of the reason on A Street is that we?re going to get out into the existing street right away, for the (6-foot) sidewalk widths we need to get there.?

? will be updated at a May 26 special meeting on the interview process underway to fill the economic-development position that will open when the current director retires at the end of June.

Paine said the council will consider a recommendation whether to proceed with interviewing an identified candidate.

? heard from Councilor Shelby Dirks that recent rains have created drainage issues along Birch Street. Other council members reported drainage issues at other locations as well.

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