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Covenant plans second addition in northwest Hays

Only 9 lots remain unsold of 22 in 2nd addition

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
Covenant Builders plans a second addition to its existing King's Gate single-family residential housing in northwest Hays off 41st Street west of Hall Street.
The King's Gate second addition, a residential single-family housing development, is planned for northwest Hays off 41st Street.

Covenant Land & Developing Inc. likely will see infrastructure construction start later this year on the second addition of its King's Gate residential development in northwest Hays. That's pending approval Thursday evening, Jan. 28, of the final plat by the Hays City Commission.

The second addition is slated for 22 lots, about 140 feet deep and 65 feet wide. The original first phase of the development, started in 2010, consists of 53 lots.

The privately held Covenant, led by Katherine Burnett, formerly of Hays and now of Camp Hill, Pa., is asking the city to create a special benefit district to fund $738,000 in street and water line improvements for the second addition.

King's Gate is a large residential development along 41st Street, west of Hall Street. The single-family homes in the first addition have been advertised for sale in the past by Hays realtors from the low $400,000s to more than $800,000.

This is the final phase for the King's Gate subdivision, according to a presentation Jan. 20 to the Hays City Commission at its regular work session by public works director Jesse Rohr.

Burnett said house construction will likely start in early 2022, depending on street construction. Houses will likely be in the $300,000 to $600,000 range.

"We are the last ones with lots in that area and we've already sold well over half of this street," Burnett told The Hays Daily News. "There are nine left, so if anyone wants one they better get it now."

The area is attractive for its convenient location, hike and bike trail, and park.

"There's just no land and people are moving up to their next home," she said.

Grow Hays executive director Doug Williams agreed about the scarcity of availability.

"I think there's real high demand for these lots," said Williams of King's Gate. "This is about the end of the road for lots in northwest Hays. The Golden Belt addition north of 41st and west of Hall Street, a big development, it's almost completely built out."

Some houses in King's Gate's first addition have sold for $300,000 and upwards, with construction exclusive to Burnett's construction builder.

"Now they've opened it up to other construction companies," Williams said.

King's Gate officials have submitted the final plat for approval by the city commission. City administrators and the Hays Area Planning Commission have recommended approval. Rohr noted there is no cost to the city with the special benefit district. He said the development ultimately will increase property tax revenue to the city once the second addition is developed.

Development calls for street and utilities extended north from 41st Street to the end of Royal Court, a cul-de-sac slated for construction. Drainage easements are in place to allow for drainage to the north into a draw, Rohr said.

"I would expect street/utility construction to begin sometime this spring, through the summer, and possibly be ready for homes late summer or early fall," said Rohr in an email to The Hays Daily News on Thursday.

The special benefit district will fund Royal Court, curb, gutter and storm water sewer improvements; 700 linear feet of 8-inch water line, fire hydrants, service connections; and 800 linear feet of 8-inch sanitary sewer line, manholes, and sanitary sewer service connections, according to Rohr.

Cost is estimated at $748,000, including $36,500 in engineering fees, according to Driggs Design Group, the engineer on the project.

In a special benefit district, cities in Kansas levy and collect special assessments on property in the district to pay all or part of the cost of street, water and sewer improvements.

Rohr said Covenant will pay 30% of the infrastructure costs to the city prior to awarding the construction contract. Then 70% will be special assessed. 

Rohr noted that the Royal Court cul-de-sac, at just under 600 feet, is longer than allowed now under the city's Unified Development Code development standards, 150 feet. But the original preliminary plat with the design of the cul-de-sac was approved by the Planning Commission prior to adoption of the current code, Rohr told the commissioners.

"Why did the UDC shorten the cul-de-sac?" asked Mayor Sandy Jacobs.

"They're not positive for transportation. There's no connectivity with cul-de-sacs," Rohr said, noting there are 30-some cul-de-sacs or more in the area of 41st Street.

"We wanted to kind of get back to connected streets," Rohr said. "When you talk about the mail routes, delivery routes, there are so many more miles traveled within a cul-de-sac than there are on connected streets."

Cul-de-sacs are still allowed, and in some cases they work well where there is a remnant of property in a subdivision, Rohr said.

"Therefore we didn't totally eliminate them, but reduced the overall allowed," he said.

"It is attractive to families that have children, they like the cul-de-sac environment," Jacobs said.

"It's assumed there's less traffic on a cul-de-sac," Rohr said. "However, every car that travels up a cul-de-sac is coming back down. That's not necessarily the case on a connected street.

Burnett said "you never know," when asked whether she might do future housing developments in Hays. A native of Dallas, she moved to Hays when her husband, Jeffery Burnett, got a teaching job at Fort Hays State University. They lived in Hays for 18 years, moving in the last few years.

"We plan to do more with the city, they've been so good to work with," she said, noting interest from home-buyers in 1-2 acre lots in the country.

"Hays is a good place," she said. "We'll have to see what options and opportunities become available."