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Archive for Friday, May 27, 2011

New construction projects alleviate Dodge City housing shortage

May 27, 2011

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— A severe housing shortage in Dodge City will be helped by several new construction projects, but officials say more housing will be needed to meet growing demand.

A 32-unit apartment complex on the city's north end is scheduled to open in June and construction has been completed on another apartment complex on Dodge City's south end.

Dodge City developer Ric Marboeuf said he's also building a development of 24 single-family homes and about half of the houses, which start at $225,000, have already been sold, The Hutchinson News reported Friday.

A 2008 study found Dodge City was 586 housing units short of its need and needed to build at least 200 units per year to keep pace with demand.

The city, which trades on its name and its important place in Western history, has seen tourism grown 40 percent since 2007, in part because of a new state-owned casino that opened in 2009.

Developers are taking advantage of federal and local tax credits and building incentives in Dodge City.

The 32-unit apartment being built in north Dodge City by Johnson County-based Overland Property Group will be Section 42 affordable housing, meaning rent will be between $450 and $570 per month for two- and three-bedroom apartments. That's well below their market value of as much as $1,000, said Brett Johnson, a partner at Overland Property Group.

The 10-acre plot is in a rural housing incentive district. Johnson said such benefits help the company keep rent costs down.

"As a typical developer, you can't come into Dodge City and build a market-rate apartment," Johnson said. "You can't do it because you'd have to charge $1,100 a month to make any money."

As long as incentives are available, Johnson said the company could build as many as 96 to 128 apartments at the site.

Marboeuf has finished two apartment buildings in a six-building complex in south Dodge City. With incentives in the local Neighborhood Revitalization Program, Marboeuf said he was able to reduce rent by about $300 a month. He said his apartments and those of Overland Property Group quickly had waiting lists and his expensive, customized homes have sold quickly.

"The homes stay on the market for a little while, but not very long," he said. "If you have the right product, you will fill it fairly quickly here."

And InterFaith Housing is currently building duplexes with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will house agricultural production workers.

JoAnn Knight, director of the Dodge City/Ford County Economic Development Agency, said the housing shortage affects people of all incomes and backgrounds in Dodge City and western Kansas.

"Our employers really know it," she said. "They're the ones that are hurting. They're hiring people and then they lose them because they have no place to live.

"There are a lot of interesting and exciting things going on. We just need to keep building," she said. "This is definitely a huge thrust forward to what we need, but we're still not close to the total needs we have here."

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