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Hoisington Land Bank expanding housing options
commerce vlc Hoisington Land Bank HOI groundbreak pic
Housing Opportunities Inc. and the City of Hoisington broke ground on a new housing development in Hoisington in October 2015. Soon, the vacant lots on the east side of Maple and 4th will be home to six new duplexes, becoming Eastwood Apartments. Holding shovels, left to right, are: Christine Reimler, KHRC; Greg Dunlap, executive vice president with Horizon Bank; Jim OHare, executive vice president with Horizon Bank; Hoisington Mayor Clayton Williams; HOI Executive Director Vicky Dayton; Brian Wilborn, chairman of the Hoisington Land Bank; Hoisington Chamber Ambassador Annie Lomas; Hoisington Chamber President Kris Schneiweiss; Fred Bentley, KHRC; Chris Imming, Midwest Housing Equity Group; Barry McMurphy, KHRC; Joe Baker, HOI maintenance. - photo by Tribune file photo


Name and title
Brian Wilborn, Vice President and Chief Financial officer at Community Bank of the Midwest.  


How long have you been there?  
My wife and I grew up here and graduated in the 1980s.  We returned to Hoisington six years ago.     

Family members
The Wilborn family includes Brian, his wife and three kids. His oldest child attends college at Kansas State University.  He also has one enrolled at Hoisington High School, and one at Hoisington Middle School.   

Brian and his wife enjoy following their kids activities, and pursuing outdoors activities like  hunting and fishing.  
What first drew you to this type of work/service?  
When we lived in Kingman, I was involved in the Kingman Chamber of Commerce.  I was able to use my gifts and talents to encourage that community to be successful.  Then, when we moved back to Hoisington we had a difficult time finding suitable housing for our family of five.  That’s when I realized Hoisington had a big challenge to overcome.  We’ve made some progress, but the challenge is ongoing.  I believe if we can move towards solving the issue of housing, we can alleviate many others by spreading the costs of running a community over more property owners.  A year ago, I was appointed the Landbank president, and through that position I believe I can help.  

What do you most enjoy about what you do?  
My greatest pleasure comes from seeing the fruits of progress in our community.  I enjoy seeing not only vacant lots being turned into productive properties, I enjoy seeing places like our local grocery store and other retail businesses being frequented more often, leading to their success.  It makes everyone feel better when there is progress going on.

What changes do you anticipate in the next five to 10 years?  
Our city is committed to future growth, evidenced by its purchase of 60 acres north of town, and its continuation of the free lot program in town.  New restaurants, a new motel and other businesses that have been established in the past few years have built a foundation.  We will continue our efforts and will continue to be successful going forward.

The city of Hoisington’s decision to start a land bank is starting to pay off.  The Hoisington Land Bank offers free lots in an effort to enhance Hoisington, allowing for new housing to grow the population, enrollment in the schools and increasing the city’s tax base.
In 2015, the Hoisington City Council made agreements with Housing Opportunities Inc. and Habitat for Humanity that will relieve housing pressure by increasing the available safe and affordable housing in Hoisington in the coming year.  They did this by authorizing the Hoisington Land Bank to transfer lots for the purpose of development.
This is good, because a recent housing study contracted by the city detailed Hoisington’s extremely low vacancy rate and aging inventory.
In May, Ross Vogel of Rural Housing Partners and Jason Hogan, contractor for RHP, met with the Hoisington City Council to discuss its proposal to construct new homes in Hoisington.  RHP was already building homes in Great Bend during the summer, and saw an opportunity to expand their success nearby.  
The company proposed having the city transfer seven lots in McKenna Meadows, part of a 60 acre tract of land purchased by the city and transferred to the Land Bank earlier for just this sort of development.  However, the builder wanted the city to agree to pave Vine Street as part of the deal.  That’s when Housing Opportunities Inc. stepped in and requested four of the lots without any paving requirements.  This led the council to thoroughly consider their options and the quality of housing that would be provided by each builder.
Both proposals include plans for houses of similar size and quality, with RHP anticipating a selling price below $200,000, and HOI estimating $220,000, depending on customizations the buyer would like.  In addition, RHP would require commitment from four buyers in order to move forward, while HOI could move forward with one.  Both companies would require commitment before a build could begin, however.
Brian Wilborn, Land Bank chairperson, found customization was a compelling factor when speaking with most of the individuals expressing interest in purchasing a new home in Hoisington.
It was a tough call, but ultimately HOI won out.  
Around that time, HOI also learned they had been awarded critical grant funding to move ahead on another project that had been a long time in the planning.
In mid-October, members of the Housing Opportunities Inc. board, Hoisington city officials, Chamber of Commerce representatives and several other honored guests met for a ceremonial groundbreaking of the Eastwood Apartments, located at Maple and 4th.  The six duplex project will add 12 units of housing to the city.   
This is the third property that HOI has undertaken in Hoisington.  The non-profit has been working closely with the City of Hoisington and the Hoisington Land Bank for nearly three years to make this and future projects possible, HOI Executive Director Vicky Dayton said Vicky Dayton.
HOI also expressed interest in building moderately-priced single family homes in the city’s McKenna Meadows development.  They weren’t alone.  Rural Housing Partners, a housing development company that was already building homes in Great Bend during the summer, asked the city to consider transferring lots to them.  
The Land Bank works with individuals also, and in June transferred a lot in the McKenna Meadows development to Hoisington residents Ben and Krista Brewer.
The Brewers are ready to build a new home for their family, and interest by builders Rural Housing Partners and Housing Opportunities Inc., in the McKenna Meadows Subdivision helped convince them to move forward with their dream.
The free land doesn’t come without strings attached.  Living area space, basements and two-car garages are among the requirements the Brewers were required to include in their plans.  Also, they were required to contract with a builder within 60 days of their request being approved, and a $500 refundable deposit was made to secure the lot.
Property can be donated or purchased by the Land Bank, as well as transferred from the city without any bidding or public sale requirements, Hoisington City Manager Jonathan  Mitchell stated.  Once in the bank, the property is exempt from payment of all ad valorem taxes, and unpaid taxes can be removed.  
“This prevents the city from having to endure the negative impacts caused by vacant properties,” he said.  “And it helps to return tax delinquent properties to productive use that benefits the community.”  
Because of the availability of these in-town lots, Barton County Habitat for Humanity approached the Land Bank, and identified first one, and then a second lot where they hoped to build single family homes.  This allowed the non-profit to offer hope to a waiting list of 15 families and individuals that their dreams of owning a home might soon be answered. The city council agreed to allow the Land Bank to make those transfers, and in March, Barton County Habitat for Humanity will break ground on the first of two projects.  
The Hoisington Land Bank also deals in commercial property, and has been working to find business owners interested in bringing retail offerings to Hoisington’s Main Street.  A progressive attitude about growth is helping to make Hoisington a viable option for many young and returning professionals interested in all that small town living has to offer.