Plans for a proposed 48-unit affordable housing complex in the south part of Hays will not be moving forward at this time.
Developer Overland Property Group in February had announced plans for a designed Reserves at Stonepost multi-family housing facility on the site of Fort Hays trailer park, 618 E. Fifth. The plans were contingent on the receipt of state tax subsidies, which were not granted in this year’s application cycle.
The Leawood-based development firm, which also constructed the three Stonepost apartment complexes already in Hays, only had an option contract on the land. That contract has expired, meaning the proposed location is no longer a possibility for future development, said Matt Gillam, vice president of development and a partner in Overland Property Group.
“We were denied tax credits. It is a highly competitive process,” Gillam said. “So as we warned everybody on the commission, that was a possibility. They received close to 60 applications and only funded less than 10.”
The developer still is interested in a possible future project in Hays, but has not yet identified a location, Gillam said, noting state officials also had expressed concerns with the proposed site.
The firm has until February to submit new proposals.
“We still believe there is a strong demand for affordable housing needs in Hays,” Gillam said, noting the company’s three developments on Fourth and Fifth streets remain in high demand.
The units are intended to provide affordable housing, which is defined as residents paying no more than 30 percent of annual household income on housing.
The development firm has more than 2,500 apartment homes throughout the Midwest and a branch office in Salina.
“I would love to find more ground near our current property that’s been a really good success for us. It’s always full,” Gillam said. “I really like the city of Hays, so I would love to find more ground to do it. It’s just not an easy task in town.”
The Hays City Commission had drafted a letter of support for the proposed project and conducted a required housing study through the Fort Hays State University Docking Institute. The study indicated additional housing is needed and high housing costs likely pose a challenge to many families. It found Hays housing prices to be the highest in western Kansas and noted more than 80 percent of low-income families are spending more than 30-percent of total earnings on housing.
City commissioners, however, questioned the findings of the study, noting it was based largely on 2015 Census data and many properties currently are available for rent or purchase.
“The study didn’t take into account reality,” Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV said at the Sept. 21 city commission work session. “And the reality is if you are a landlord — and I’m guilty — you’re not doing very well right now. If you’re a realtor, you haven’t sold a home in a long time. And this is a problem.”