Senior housing project set to break ground

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Mennonite Housing is intending to break ground in Newton in the next two months on a housing project similar to its 
Clearwater Senior Residences.

Harvest Pointe, a housing project on West First Street for seniors is expected to break ground in the next 60 days, after several years of work between the nonprofit Mennonite Housing and the city of Newton.

According to city staff, the project is expected to break ground the first week of December.

"That is fantastic news," said Kelly McElroy, city administrator.

The nonprofit started developing affordable rental housing for very-low to low income seniors and families in and around the Wichita area in 1991. They have expanded to more than a dozen facilities in south central Kansas.

The Newton project could be more than 120 units when complete. Phase I of the project is what will get underway this year — weather permitting.

The housing project's first phase is expected to include  32 units with a clubhouse and maintenance garage. Also in the pans for phase I are a walking path and drainage retention pond. Entrances to the housing project will be off of First and Boyd Streets. 

"it will be a nice amenity for the public," McElroy said.

The property was once purchased by the city and was considered for a new parks department building. However, the cost of that project kept it on the back burner. The city then negotiated a trade agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation for the sale of other city-owned property on Southeast 14th that included a trade agreement for a KDOT building on East 12th, which the city intends to use for the parks department once the building is vacated.

The choice to no construct a city building on the West First property opened the door for other options. A portion of the property was zoned as commercial.

Mennonite Housing stepped forward with a plan, and was willing to purchase the property to move forward.

In early 2020, Mennonite Housing optioned about 14.5 acres of land from the City for $3,000 per acre. Mennonite Housing also will pay  the costs for extension of water and sewer mains and for drainage improvements, including a detention pond.

The City agreed to waive up to $25,000 in permit fees for the development in order to gain additional points on the tax credit application, which appears to have made the difference after two unsuccessful tax credit applications.

Mennonite Housing will close on the tax credits in November,.

The long-term plan is a phased housing project for residents age 55+ with up to 120 units, constructed as single-story patio home. Possible amenities will include pickleball courts and a walking path.

Last week the city rezoned property at West First Street and Boyd from commercial to multi-family residential for the proposed Harvest Pointe senior housing project.