Commission could approve Mennonite Housing contract at next meeting

The City Commission will have the option to enter into a contract with Mennonite Housing for a proposed affordable housing development for senior citizens, though the specifics of that contract might not be decided until the meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m..

Acting City Manager Kelly McElroy said that after discussions with Mennonite Housing, City Attorney Chris Towle was drafting different agreements for the commission to possibly approve. Those draft agreements were not available at the time of this article, but McElroy said one would allow a gift of land to the organization and another that might include the city selling the property.

She said the city could approve a contract or it could table the information for more discussion or direction.
McElroy said and Mennonite Housing CEO Byron Adrian previously said that the organization is asking for the city to gift it city-owned property located at First St. and Boyd Ave. The organization approached the city asking for 24 acres of the property including area meant for a drainage pond.
The organization is planning in its first phase to build a 32-unit set of quadplexes , that will be for those over 55 years old. To qualify, residents must make below a certain percentage of median income. Adrian said right now that percentage is at 60 percent though it might be up to 80 percent.

The proposed project would represent the first phase of construction. 120 units is the final total should Mennonite Housing develop all three phases of the build out.

Phase I will consist of two, 2.68 acres lots, shown in yellow on the attached map, for a total of 5.36 acres,” the memo stated.

The memo states that in the case of the total build up the developer will be responsible for paving Columbus Avenue to the edge of the property line,.

The memo also listed that the developer would be responsible for a required drainage pond that will be required to serve the site.

The estimated cost to construct the required drainage pond is $215,000-$250,000,” the memo said.

Mennonite Housing is a non-profit organization that operates 19 housing complexes in the area. The proposed development in Newton would be tax exempt.

The memo also notes that sales tax on materials and supplies and purchases by labors could generate revenue for the city “estimated in the area of several million dollars.”

When asked about the information, McElroy said that was provided by Mennonite Housing, but she was working to get a cost benefit analysis of the project done through Wichita State University.

The city receives a share of two cents worth of sales tax through the county. For context it would take $50 million of local expenditures to generate $1 million of sales tax revenues, using the two cents of local sales tax generated overall.

When I have spoken with them, they indicated they have always tried to use local contractors,” McElroy said.

At the meeting the commission will look at possible contracts as well as consider approving a resolution of support for the project.