By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Larned Mayor Bob Pivonka has proposed the idea that the Larned city council consider financial incentives for a housing project that would attract a prospective developer.
Pivonka made his sales pitch recently to the Larned Chamber of Commerce board and the Pawnee County Economic Development board. He will make a similar proposal to the Larned city council in December.
Pivonka said the Pawnee County Economic Development board sees the possibility of working with a prospective developer with incentives through the city.
“The Pawnee County Economic Development board sees this a economic development issue,” Pivonka said. “One possibility is the economic development board enter into a contract with the property owners with the idea the land would be part of the city.”
Pivonka wants the city to consider tax and utility incentives. Larned City Manager Lane Massey said such incentives would be available to all builders.
“I believe perks have to be given,” Pivonka said. “If you want people to move here, you have to take a broad look at incentives. We have to work together.”
Pivonka believes Larned lacks sufficient rental housing, an idea that Courtland Holman, Larned Chamber director, agrees with. Pivonka envisions an apartment complex that would feature two and three-bedroom units.
“My main concern is lack of housing,” Pivonka said. “We have not done anything as a city to solve the rental housing problem.”
Holman said he receives inquiries about available rental properties on a regular basis.
“We hear that there is a lack of rental properties. If you’re a developer, I believe Larned offers a terrific opportunity,” Holman said.
Holman believes a complex with duplexes would have a ready-made market. He said complexes often feature amenities such as a playground area, a common-room work area, gardening and a bicycle rack.
“We have some available property identified for development and infrastructure is there,” Holman said. “If you make it an attraction, there would definitely be people interested.”
Pivonka said any hope that future employees at the Larned State Hospital would reside in Pawnee County starts and ends with adequate housing. Pivonka said Pawnee County gains a full tax advantage if the employees reisde locally.
“We should want to get 50 percent of those people to live here locally,” Pivonka said. “We need to show the state that we can house employees here.”
Holman said a certain vacancy rate in a city is always a good incentive for a business to relocate to a city.
“Businesses are interested in vacancies,” Holman said.
In addition, Pivonka has raised the issue of annexation additional territory for the city of Larned to help produce more tax revenue.
Holman said many prospective employees lean toward rentals over home ownership, especially in the short term. Local realtors list dozens of houses available in Larned, ranging from $19,900 to $379,900.