Housing is a huge priority in the City of Atchison’s 2020 Strategic Plan. Below are a collection of resources intended to help contractors, developers, investors, and potential homeowners understand how to take advantage of the various offerings the City has compiled to incentivize infill housing development. By offering these incentives and programs the City of Atchison hopes to increase the availability of housing options at all price-points, increase residential property values, and reduces blight throughout the community.
What kinds of housing does Atchison need?
In 2019 the City of Atchison hired Novogradac to produce a Housing Market Study for the City of Atchison. The full study is available at the link provided, but a paraphrased version of the specific housing market needs and recommendations is included below:
- Moderate Income Owner-Occupied Single-Family Homes
Approximately 28.1 percent of owner-occupied households within the city of Atchison earn between $50,000 and $99,999. However, there is a limited supply of single-family homes in good condition targeted towards moderate-income households. Many interviewees noted that it has been challenging for potential residents in the moderate-income bracket to find a suitable home in Atchison. There are roughly 1,055 households in Atchison in these income brackets. These moderate income homes would likely contain two to three-bedrooms, contain 650 to 1,408 square feet depending on the number of bedrooms, and be priced between $150,000 and $225,000.
- Moderate Income Renter-Occupied Apartment, Townhouse, & Duplex Developments
Approximately 24.8 percent of renter-occupied households within the city of Atchison earn between $40,000 and $59,999. However, there is a limited supply of moderate-income rental options in good condition. Further, many stakeholders noted that it has been challenging for potential renters in the moderate-income bracket to find a suitable option in Atchison. There are roughly 296 households in Atchison in these income brackets.
- Senior Housing
The number of senior households, ages 65 and older, is predicted to grow at a rate of 1.9 percent annually from 2019 to 2024 to 1,182 senior households in 2024, which is a reverse trend when compared to the general population. There are a large percentage of senior households in Atchison that earn below $40,000 annually at 50.0 percent, indicating the need for additional affordable senior housing in the area. As of 2019, approximately 19.2 percent of senior households, or 207 households, are renters, which is projected to increase to 252 senior renter households by 2024.
In addition to constructing affordable rental housing for seniors, we believe that owner-occupied condominiums or townhomes that offer less upkeep and maintenance for seniors that currently own larger single-family homes could be well received in the area. According to some stakeholders, seniors are staying in their homes longer due to the lack of independent living options in Atchison, resulting in many young families and young professional home buyers to look outside of Atchison. Based upon conversations with property managers at senior properties, we believe that age-restricted one to two-bedroom units approximately 600 to 900 square feet with attached parking would be well received. Further, locating these units near the university or near downtown Atchison would be ideal given the close proximity of vocational amenities and services in the area.
- Affordable Renter-Occupied Housing Developments
Approximately 58.7 percent of renter-occupied households within the city of Atchison earn less than $40,000 annually. However, according to our demand calculations, there appears to be a lack of supply of low-income rental options in the city. Further, the number of renter households in this income bracket is expected to increase to 59.1 percent of all renter-occupied households by 2024.
The 6 Specific Recommendations from the 2019 Housing Study:
- Create additional moderate-income owner-occupied housing.
- Create new market rate housing by encouraging conversion development in the Downtown Area of existing developments in poor to fair condition, near the riverfront.
- Preserve Atchison’s existing single-family housing stock and implement stricter property maintenance codes, especially in the western and southern portions of the city.
- Build a mixed-income (affordable and market rate) townhouse or duplex-style development.
- Build low-income housing targeted towards developmentally disabled persons, persons at risk of homelessness, and independent living for seniors.
- Educate low to moderate-income households on how they can purchase homes and encourage the use of first-time homebuyer incentive programs.
Where in Atchison can I build?
The City of Atchison owns and maintains a series of properties that are available to developers through our Land Bank Program. Various private parties also own vacant and buildable lots throughout Atchison.
The City of Atchison wants builders, developers, investors, contractors, and the public to know that most of Atchison’s smaller and older lots are perfectly suitable for by-right new construction projects. For the last several decades suburban style zoning regulations created a perception that vacant lots in Atchison’s oldest neighborhoods were “un-buildable”. With action by the Atchison City Commission earlier this year, those lots are clearly and officially buildable once again.
The City of Atchison is zoned and therefore has a series of zoning classifications and regulations. Much of “old Atchison”, where infill housing would occur, is appropriately zoned for duplex, triplex, or apartment building development, in addition to single family housing. Suburban construction options also exist, although the incentive programming is not quite as lucrative for those sites.
How can the City help make my project more financially feasible?
Development Microgrant – Development and construction are expensive investments to pursue. It can even be expensive just to get through the due diligence and planning that’s necessary to figure out if a project idea is viable. The City’s Development Microgrant Program aims to offset some of those due diligence and planning expenses with a 50% reimbursement grant program for qualifying expenses, which include architecture, engineering, surveying, design work, etc… with a max grant of $2,500 per project.
Property Tax Rebate Program – This program aims to promote re-investment and re-development in Atchison’s traditional neighborhoods, including the downtown core, by rebating property tax payments back to property owners who invest or reinvest in their property. For developers, contractors, and/or investors, more robust property tax rebates make real estate projects/investments more financially feasible.
While projects in the core of the City warrant the highest rebates, suburban or greenfield developments also come with a generous rebate schedule. Please review the full Neighborhood Revitalization Program application or call the Atchison County Appraiser’s office to learn more about the program.
Projects inside the City’s core neighborhoods and valued at $100,000 or more are eligible to receive a 95% property tax rebate for 10 years, with rebates of 80%, 70%, 60%, 40%, and 20% to follow in years 11 through 15. Please contact the Atchison County Appraiser’s office prior to starting your project.
Demolition Cost Share Program – Property owners that wish to demolish an existing structure may be eligible for a cost sharing arrangement with the City of Atchison, which could also include the waiver of dumping fees at the Atchison County Transfer Station. The program features 5 categories: 1) Unsafe & Dangerous, 2) City Initiated Demolitions, 3) Financial Hardships, 4)Public Safety Training Use, and 5) Redevelopment
Land Bank Real Estate – The City of Atchison Land Bank exists to strategically acquire and hold property for the purpose of redevelopment. Sometimes, aggregating multiple properties together can take many years before a viable redevelopment opportunity presents itself. All properties in the City’s land bank are available for purchase by individuals, organizations, developers, etc. with a plan for higher use or redevelopment.
Discounted Water Utility Connections – The Atchison City Commission adopted Resolution No. 3198 in early March of 2020, reducing utility connection fees for new housing developments within existing plats of the city. Whereas time and materials were previously billed to housing developers connecting to the City’s water distribution system, going forward only materials will be billed. For a newly constructed home on an infill lot, that could amount to a savings of several thousand dollars.
How else can the City help?
Addressing Code Enforcement Issues with Neighboring Properties – The City recognizes that concerns with dilapidated adjacent housing is a deterrent to seeing infill housing investments both for rehabilitation or new construction projects. In recent years, the City has ramped up code enforcement efforts to become more thorough and fair. If you are planning an infill housing or rehabilitation project and have concerns about the condition of a neighboring property, please get in touch with our Code Enforcement staff.
Let our professional staff help…
Justin Pregont is the Assistant City Manger and primary contact for economic development matters for the City of Atchison. Justin holds a Historic Real Estate Development Finance Professional (HREDFP) certification through the National Development Council (NDC) and has played the role of developer for the Red Light Gallery Project and the 1913 Apartments Project in downtown Atchison in recent years. He was also part of the team that put together the Fox Theatre Atchison project. He can help you access the various grants, incentives, and program offerings that are available. Justin can be reached at 913-367-9317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phil Burke is the Building Inspector and Zoning Administrator for the City of Atchison. Phil has several decades of experience in teaching and inspecting the building trades. Phil retired from the City of Lawrence, KS before coming to work for the City of Atchison and he owns his own home inspection business as a side venture. Phil can be reached at 913-367-5500 or email@example.com.