Humboldt hears senior housing plan

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

HUMBOLDT — Humboldt councilmen were briefed Monday on what a developer hopes could be a new senior housing complex in town.
Bill Caton of Excel Development, Augusta, discussed the potential housing development geared for “senior” residents — those 55 and older who want to downsize but aren’t yet ready to move into a residential care facility or nursing home.
The goal, Caton said, is to have eight to 10 units built by 2011.
Before the project can proceed, Caton must complete a market study to confirm the need for senior housing, which in turn would enable Excel to qualify for tax credits administered by the Kansas Housing Re-sources Corporation.
A site for the complex also must be determined, Caton said. Several potential locations have been discussed.
Depending on the location, Caton also may need to ask for the city’s assistance in developing infrastructure. Humboldt could pursue a Community Development Block Grant to assist with such a project, Caton noted. He also cited a tax abatement program, another element to keeping overhead costs low enough so the houses can be affordable to seniors.
Under Excel’s plan, each of the units would rent for about $525 a month. Occupants also would need to pay another $85 or so monthly to help with utilities. The rest would be paid by Excel, which also would handle upkeep of the homes, which average about 980 square feet.
Affordable senior housing is one of the goals of Humboldt’s Housing Action Team, developed under the city’s Rebuilding the Public Square efforts.
The group conducted surveys of Humboldt residents, employees who work in town but live elsewhere and graduates of Humboldt High School who are nearing retirement and live outside Allen County, said Chris Bauer, a housing action team member.
Bauer and fellow team member Clint Hillmon also were at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The thought is that having affordable senior housing would encourage those living in bigger houses to downsize, which in turn would create affordable housing for working families, Caton explained.
Preliminary studies indicate roughly half of the housing complex’s residents would come from local homeowners or renters, Caton said.
Caton said the housing market survey will take roughly 30 days to complete.

IN AN unrelated matter, council members approved spending $5,840 to extend a 1 1/2-inch sewer line, lift station and a spare pump to accommodate wastewater services for the planned Dollar General store on the north edge of town.
Funds for the project will come out of city’s sewer replacement funds. The city will lay the sewer line. The developer will install the lift station.
The vote to approve the project passed 5-2, with members Sean McReynolds and Dan Julich opposed and Jeremy Weilert absent.
McReynolds said he wasn’t opposed to the project but wondered if a larger sewer line would accommodate future development in the area.
“If another building goes up out there, we’d have to dig another line,” he said.

COUNCIL members delayed securing temporary financing in order to begin a $1.6 million water line, fire hydrant and valve replacement project because of what one councilman noted was a “miscommunication” about how much temporary funding is needed.
The “miscommunication” centers on what McReynolds said was apparent mixed signals from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office.
McReynolds noted that USDA officials originally told the city that Humboldt would need to acquire only about $680,000 in temporary financing. However, City Administrator Larry Tucker told the council that USDA recommended the city acquire temporary financing for $1.2 million to take advantage of low interest rates.
The temporary financing, in the form of general obligation temporary notes, would mature in April 2011 at an interest rate of 2.75 percent. At that time, USDA’s Rural Development office would pay off the notes and allow Humboldt to pay back the debt over a 40-year period.
Tucker brought to Monday’s meeting a resolution authorizing the investment firm of Cooper, Malone and McClain, Wichita, to purchase and issue the temporary notes.
The city also will utilize $400,000 in CDBG grant funding.
McReynolds pointed to another reason to wait. The bids for the project will be opened Oct. 8 and presented to the council at its Oct. 12 meeting.
His fellow council members agreed, voting 7-0 to wait on the decision.
McReynolds also wondered if a local bank could be used to acquire the temporary financing.
“Let’s at least see our options,” he said. “We always stress keeping business in Humboldt.”