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County Housing Shortage Begins With Lack Of Affordable Property

How to address the need for new housing in the $180,000 to $240,000 price range was one of the main points of discussion at the annual Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce joint meeting on October 15.

“From what I hear from the developers, the available building lots around the communities in Ste. Genevieve County are dwindling,” IDC president Ron Klein said.

R.J. Clements of TAG Development said the shortage is in lots “you can build more affordable housing on.”

“Most subdivisions that we have require a certain price point you need to beat to be in the subdivision,” Clements said.

The $200,000 and slightly below range is in demand, he said. He called $180,000 to $240,000 “the sweet spot” for addressing the need.

“It would be good if we could get a developer that can come into a space and get two, three, four things going at one time,” Klein said. “As IDC and chamber, we continue to try to look for those opportunities.”

Ste. Genevieve city administrator Martin Toma talked about the city’s activity on Progress Parkway, where it owns about 35 acres there and is trying to find a developer interested in building a subdivision there.

Toma said the land on Progress Parkway had originally been purchased with the hope of luring industry there.

“Experience has led us to believe that, No. 1, the kind of industrial development that was envisioned back when it was created is no longer a usable model,” Toma said. “Because the kind of manufacturing activities that was envisioned is going overseas, generally speaking.”

The city began to look at different uses that could get the land back on the tax rolls and create jobs. By statute, Toma said, the city has to get fair market value or very close to it. It can’t “give away the land,” in Toma’s words.

An engineer was employed to design a layout of how the property could be used. Of the original 40 acres, more than half is hilly, which would require terracing before construction could take place.

A couple of developers visited and looked at the property, Toma said, but neither one was interested. If one would emerge, Toma believes it will have the city’s backing.

“I think the city is still supportive of a project such as this,” he said.

Lots would be 80 feet wide and 130 feet deep, for about 10,000 square feet. They were appraised at about $25,000 an acre.

Toma said that during his career as a developer, such a project would have been a good risk for a company to invest in with hopes of getting a payoff after lots were sold.

A municipality, however, cannot assume financial responsibility for such a project.

“The attorney looked at it and said the city really cannot be a finance agent for that type of development,” Toma said.

An offer on two acres by the waterpark was made. That deal will be closing right away, he said.

TAG Development had previously negotiated with the city of Bloomsdale about the possibility of starting a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to develop a hillside location in that community to address the housing need. Those talks eventually broke down.

Meanwhile, a five-acre tract of the city of Ste. Genevieve’s original 40 acres on Progress Parkway is being sold to Bogey Creek Developers, which had previously built Wynncrest Apartments on Progress Parkway. A first reading of the sale was approved by the Board of Aldermen earlier this month.

The land being bought is immediately east of the apartments. Bogey Creek plans to build duplexes or villas for rent.

Although that project would not answer the long-term home ownership issue, it might help address the immediate needs of county businesses trying to attract workers with young families.

See complete story in the October 23 edition of the Herald.

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