City extends discount on home development fees for 2014 but incentive near end
Earlier this month, the Baldwin City Council quietly extended the city’s discount on residential development fees first slashed two years ago in an effort to boost housing starts.
But as the council was renewing the discount, the city was telling contractors and developers not to expect it to be continued into 2015.
“We think the recovery is solid enough that this will be the last year,” Baldwin City Administrator Chris Lowe said. “We wanted to make sure folks with plans toward the end of the year still had the opportunity to take advantage of the incentive.”
The measure approved with the rest of the council’s Dec. 2 consent agenda extended the 50 percent reduction in development fees on new home starts for next year. The discount first was put in place for 2012 in response to the recession and the need to stay competitive when the city of Eudora slashed development fees.
There was little new home construction in Baldwin City the past two years despite the discount. One home permit was issued in 2012 and three were issued this year. Lowe said that the new construction market appeared to be thawing, with contractors showing interest in building on infill lots in the Fire Tree and Signal Ridge subdivisions.
Another positive note was the council’s approval in October of Brian Sheldon’s plat for a nine-home subdivision for west Baldwin City. The development, which was the first brought to the city since the start of the recession in 2008, will add five single-family residences in the 1200 block of Fremont Street and another four west of a 12th Street cul de sac to be built from Fremont Street south to Grove Street.
Sheldon said in October that a custom home would be built on a lot already sold and he expected a full build out of the development in four to five years.
As home starts have dried up the past six years, the hope has been that new jobs from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad’s intermodal rail yard and warehouse complex east of Edgerton would spur future residential development in Baldwin City.
A Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation study conducted after the project was first proposed seven years ago found that when fully built out the intermodal and warehouse complex would create 3,396 jobs in the next 20 years and provide the economic stimulus to add another 3,800 jobs.
The intermodal has been operational since October and activity is picking up in the adjacent logistics park, Edgerton City Administrator Beth Linn said. Edgerton annexed the site in 2009.
Linn said the Leawood-based household gift company, DEMDACO, would be moving into a 326,650-square-foot warehouse now under construction in the logistics park and that another 500,000-square-foot speculative distribution center was also being built. The DeLong Grain Company Inc.’s facility is already operating at the site.
Those developments haven’t yet created a demand for new homes in Edgerton, which issued no new home permits in 2013. It’s anticipated there would be a lag before those working at the intermodal or warehouses start looking for homes in her city, Linn said.
“Statistics show people want to work at their job about two or three years before they will move their families,” she said. “They want to make sure it’s a longterm commitment before they uproot their families.
“The demand for residential will be there.”
Lowe said Baldwin City expected the same lag before employees from the complex started buying homes in the city.
“We’ve had a few people sniffing around from the intermodal,” he said. “It generally takes from two-and-half to three years. The first jobs hit this quarter.”