GI Leaders Sifting Through Housing Study Results - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

GI Leaders Sifting Through Housing Study Results

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There are a lot of statistics for city officials, economic development leaders and real estate developers to start looking at.
Chief among the results from the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation's study is that the community needs about 1,600 new homes to start filling current needs.
GIAEDC Executive Assistant Mary Berlie says cost comes back as the biggest struggle for survey-takers looking to rent or buy, something that's common for a city GI's size.  They're also looking for single-family homes that stand alone – not duplexes or townhouses.
"One of the things that the survey indicated is that individuals are seeking a house structure listed in the price of $100,000 to $175,000," says Berlie.  "With new construction going up that price range is going to be very difficult to accommodate."
One developer says that's a range they're targeting already, and find that it's paying off.  O'Connor Enterprises says that in the developing Copper Creek subdivision they're taken 113 reservations for new homes in 160 days (just over five months).
City officials say they try and get a housing study done every five years to keep planning on track, and these results are not unusual.
"That's very much what we see and it's what we see almost every time we do one of these studies," says Regional Planning Director Chad Nabity. "A lot of times the results are very similar, but you need to go back every few years and make sure that they're still the same."
Officials say the answer is not always new construction. Around 2,200 homes in GI will sell at lower prices, but need what's called "moderate rehabilitation" - between $20-27,000 worth of work done.
"60 percent of our homes in Grand Island were built before 1959, so some of the rehabilitation costs fall in line with those older homes in the older neighborhoods," says Berlie.
"You have to maintain your housing stock and that maintenance is done by people buying those, making the upgrades, replacing shingles, replacing heating and air conditioning," says Nabity.
Around 400 need torn down completely, and Nabity says new construction in a neighborhood with existing streets, water, schools, and businesses can be an asset.
"It may even be some of those that really truly are worn out and it's time to remove that house from the housing stock and replace it with a new one," he says.
With these figures in hand, groups can apply for better housing grants and developers can plan the next phases for Grand Island.
"It's definitely not doable within the next year, this is a plan that's going to take at least five years to establish," says Berlie.

Reporter's notes:
About 500 people took the EDC's survey. Most said they felt comfortable paying a monthly rent somewhere between $300 - $870. Data from a few years ago shows the average monthly rent for a two bedroom house or apartment in GI was falling between $650 - $900.

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