The City of Great Bend continues to take positive steps to encourage housing development.
After getting state approval to create Rural Housing Incentive Districts, a public hearing was held and this week the city council approved RHID proposals for housing projects in the Amber Meadows addition and at 29th and Washington St. Developer Ross Vogel, owner of Employer Housing Partners LLC, wants to build eight homes at Amber Meadows and six four-plexes at 29th and Washington.
The city council also approved the bid for construction to extend the sanitary sewer system to the block where the four-plexes will be built. The developer will pay the costs.
Last June, another potential developer chose not to pursue the building of a 32-unit apartment complex here, when the city’s application for federal low-incoming housing tax credits to help fiance the project failed to materialize.
Great Bend, like other communities, has needed more housing across the economic spectrum for many years. There have been no apartments built here for 35 years. We’ve learned that developers tend to go to communities that will work with them by offering incentives.
The RHID program lets qualified developers use money they would otherwise pay in increased property taxes. Their taxes do gradually increase over several years. Local taxing entities typically approve temporarily foregoing the tax on new construction because they aren’t losing anything, really. Often, the new construction would not happen without the incentive, and no new taxes would be collected, otherwise.
RHIDs have helped other cities, such as Dodge City, McPherson and Garden City. For example, a developer used the RHID program to build a 32-unit apartment complex in Dodge City. It was completed in the summer of 2011 and was full before the end of October, with a waiting list.
The city council is on the right track, and should continue to encourage developers.