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Housing Top Priority in City of Concordia

Concordia City Hall
Concordia City Hall

The Concordia City Commission held a study session earlier this month to discuss priorities for 2023, which includes, in this order, housing, maintain infrastructure, and support the health and vitality of the community.

Housing remains the city's top priority.

In 2021, the Concordia City Commission authorized FIVE RULE Rural Planning of Kearney, Nebraska to proceed with a housing study and market analysis.  A draft copy was presented to the members of the Concordia City Commission and the CloudCorp Board of Directors in August 2022.  The study revealed that local businesses are struggling to fill current vacancies due to the lack of available, affordable, quality housing.  A gap of 245 moderate income homes and a gap of 12 high income homes in Concordia was found.

In December, it was announced that the City of Concordia was one of 11 Kansas communities that will receive a combined total of $4,998,936 in Moderate Income Housing (MIH) funds and $7,593,000 in Kansas Housing Investor Tax Credits (KHITC).  The City of Concordia received $650,000 to assist in the construction of 15 single-family homes over the course of six years, while CloudCorp has received $480,000 in KHITC.

Last year, the Cloud County Health Center Board of Trustees voted unanimously to gift the former hospital land at 1100 Highland Drive to the City of Concordia land bank for the purpose of developing moderate to high income housing.

According to the terms of the Development Agreement, the city will have eighteen months to commence construction and proceed with due diligence, or the hospital may reacquire the property at no cost.  The city bears responsibility for the costs of the housing project; the hospital has no financial obligation.

Concordia City Commissioner Ashley Hutchinson says the land provides a golden opportunity to grow the community and develop new, affordable homes.

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Last month, the Concordia City Commission authorized City Manager Amy Lange to sign an agreement for surveying services with Campbell & Johnson Engineers P.A. to plat the subdivision.  The property must be replatted into lots appropriately sized for residential development.

The platting process includes a boundary and topographic survey, as well as the establishment of street rights-of-way and utility easements.

Work is being coordinated with demolition of the old hospital building so as not to interfere with demolition and to provide accurate information helpful to future construction of homes on the property.

Dave Garnas, Hospital Administrator, says the former building will be razed to usable acreage by the end of spring 2023.

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The commission has also discussed ways to hold landlords accountable to provide a safe environment to tenants.

Mayor Chuck Lambertz said they want to ensure that rental units in the city are in a safe, habitable condition.

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Specific priorities related to maintaining infrastructure and addressing blight include focusing resources on arterial and collector street corridors, continuing efforts to encourage demolition or repair of unsafe and dangerous structures, and addressing nuisances fairly, effectively, and timely.

City Manager Lange also said they want to focus resources on recruitment and staff development.

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Another major theme discussed by the commission is to support the health and vitality of the community, noting a healthy community needs resources to support physical, social, emotional and mental health needs of residents.  The commission also plans to evaluate programming to meet current needs, including available funding and staffing resources.