The City of Hays is hoping to attract a developer for a potential new business on West 10th Street and is willing to give the city-owned property at no cost for the right project.

A request for proposals was posted on the city’s website Tuesday. Specifications for a potential project are “wide open,” and developments could be in the realm of commercial business, multi-family dwellings or a mixed-use structure, such as retail stores on a lower level and apartments above, Assistant City Manager Jacob Wood said.

“We intend to give that property away as part of that agreement, so it would be an opportunity for a developer to come in with free land and what we feel is a pretty good location,” he said. “It’s halfway between downtown and the university, so we think that’s a pretty good location for that type of development.

“But we’re really kind of wide open to see what developers will bring in.”

The city owns 1.26 acres of property on the north side of West 10th between Elm and Ash. The space has been used for parking, but is near the site of the former Union Pacific railroad depot.

The city also has negotiated a lease with the railroad for an additional 0.93 acres of space for parking to benefit the development by maximizing the amount of building space, Wood said.

The RFP document is available at haysusa.com and also has been sent to developers across the state, he said.

According to the document, proposals are due Dec. 15, with interviews to be scheduled in January. The city would anticipate construction beginning next summer, if all goes well.

Proposals will be reviewed by city staff and the Hays City Commission, which would be tasked with selecting a project from among the applicants.

The area in question is zoned neighborhood conservation district No. 4, consisting of a mix of single-family homes and multi-family homes. Since it is in the neighborhood revitalization program, the development would be eligible for rebates on the increased property value once the project is complete.

The property will need to be re-platted because the layout is mostly made of street right-of-ways. The city has indicated a willingness to consider proposals that would alter traffic patterns, such as closing or rerouting 10th or Walnut streets.

City commissioners have had several discussions about stagnant sales tax receipts and the desire to attract new businesses. Wood said officials are hopeful the offer of free land will encourage interest in the West 10th Street project.

“One of the reasons that we’re doing this is a lot of times we get people who really complain about the price of land here,” he said. “That’s kind of the biggest thing we hear from outside developers is the cost of land is too expensive. This is an opportunity if a developer wants to come in, the cost of land is pretty cheap if it’s free. So we’re hoping we get some interest.”