Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday said a developer’s request for tax incentives to build affordable housing for people ages 55 and up in downtown Lawrence aligned well with the city’s goals.
Tony Krsnich, of Flint Hills Holdings LLC, has secured some state and federal funding already for the project, slated for the currently empty lot at 1000 New Hampshire St. He is also seeking a 15-year, 95% Neighborhood Revitalization Area (NRA) property tax rebate as well as Industrial Revenue Bond (IRB) financing to make project construction materials sales tax exempt.
The four-story building would have 15,000 square feet of commercial/retail space on the ground floor topped by 48 total units: six studio, 35 one-bedroom, six two-bedroom and one three-bedroom, according to agenda materials. There would be no market-rate units in the building; rent amounts would follow affordable amounts as designated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Read more about the project in this article.
Mayor Lisa Larsen on Tuesday asked if Krsnich was bound to rent to people ages 55 and up. Krsnich said he is. He said his team saw that in Lawrence and in the proposed location, a project for folks 55 and older and people with disabilities was in great demand and really hadn’t been addressed in the downtown area.
Vice Mayor Bart Littlejohn said he was very interested in the potential for a grocery store in the commercial space on the building’s first floor. Krsnich said his company was in talks with two or three grocery store opportunities.
Commissioner Courtney Shipley said that the property taxes received from the project over the rebate would likely be less than the cost of city services to the property — roads and sewer lines would need to be replaced, and the alleyway will need upkeep, she said.
“I appreciate all the kind things that we’re going to say about this project and how it ticks all our boxes, and it does, but it does come at a cost,” Shipley said.
Larsen said for her, this project was part of the city’s long-term plan in regards to density and affordable housing, particularly for seniors, and a good use of tax dollars.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to give initial approval to the tax breaks.
The project will go before the Lawrence school board and Douglas County Commission during meetings in the near future before returning to the Lawrence City Commission for final approval.
Altogether, the tax incentives are estimated to cost the city, county, school district and state about $1.28 million. With the city’s addition of $550,000 from ARPA funds and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the total is about $1.83 million:20230905-1000-NH-NRA-IRB-cost