It’s no secret Wayne County has been experiencing an extended issue with housing shortages for quite some time. Several volunteer housing groups within the county have been putting in overtime as they worked to address the major housing shortage here in Wayne County.

The Wayne County Housing committee (WCHC) commissioned McClure Engineering for the first step in having a study performed in county. It was from this study, along with data from the 2015 census, determining that every day over 800 people were driving to their jobs within Wayne County from an out of county home location.

“Then when you add in the East Penn expansion, where as I understand it they are looking for 285 employees right now that only increases the housing shortage,” said Dave Daughton, member of the WCHC. “I have always thought as an employer I would want my employees living as close to work as possible. On those snowy days, people aren’t going to drive down here from Osceola or wherever they are coming from.”

Daughton noted while the housing shortage wasn’t a new issue and has been common discussion for several years, gaining developer’s interest to come to Wayne County has been difficult. Corydon Community Development along with Homes on Prairie Trail are the most recent additions to the community after building single duplex and four-plex housing units.

“Mark Nessen was working on this twentysome years ago and we are just a group of people working together to help battle this housing shortage,” Daughton noted. “Denise Becker was instrumental in the creation of WCHC and we have carried on knowing we needed to do something about the lack of housing after hitting roadblock after roadblock.”

Joining Daughton with these efforts with the WCHC is Bonita Wells, Caleb Housh, Dave Dotts, Jason Gibbs, John Buttz, Kim Hicks, Jenna Lain, Devin Rodgers, Amber Rodgers, Ed Coffey, Mike Still and Carol Davidson.

“The main reason we have struggled to get someone to come in here is due to what is called an appraisal gap,” Daughton continued. “Simple version of that is, developers can build housing and rental units in Indianola, Waukee or Adel and it would cost x amount of money. In Corydon it would cost the same amount of money to build except in Waukee they can sell for more money than here. So that created issues gaining interest from developers.”

“This goes back to years ago when Mark Nessen was working on this and we would get everything put together and think it was a great plan until the time came to talking dollar figures,” stated Daughton. “That was until McClure came along and gave us the contact for Kading Properties.”

Kading is based out of Urbandale and along with having multiple years of experience in residential housing developments, they also can boast the positive results seen from numerous communities where they have developed housing. Towns such as Osceola, Pella and Winterset are just a few where Kading Properties can be found.

“I have been to their developments in Winterset and Pella and driven through Osceola to see some of them and when they first began it was with box-style housing which is what you can see on the interstate as you drive past Osceola,” Daughton added. “Now, they are no longer a box-style and instead an architectural design.”

When WCHC reached out to Osceola, the biggest positive they felt was the addition of over 150 new housing units along with that many new residents coming to town that weren’t there before. The praises were high when speaking on Kading and the new housing addition for their area.

While Kading looked into further options around Wayne County including possible housing unit structures in Allerton, Humeston and Seymour, they noted with them being smaller communities with less ammenities, it wasn’t ideal at this time for this size of a development.

“That’s not to say that at some time at some point it wouldn’t be possible for units to be built in those towns as well,” Daughton added.

When conversations began between Kading and WCHC in January of 2020, they explored options on possible locations that would work for the development area. Through those conversations, a property owned by the City of Corydon on South Street was decided on as the best location for the project.

It was with that determination that Kading made a proposal towards the plans for a devleopment where approximately 60 rental housing units would be built, making Corydon the smallest and most rural community Kading will be building in.

“I consider us to be pretty lucky to get Kading to come here, but it was also because they saw the potential here and what they could do,” Daughton said.

Kading needed three things to make this a reality including aquisition of the approximately 15-acre property on South Street.

“The city sold Kading the property and Kading will clean out the trees in that area and replace with new trees where needed,” Daughton said. “Kading also wanted a tax abatement included and as of Oct. 13, the city agreed and committed to those items as well as rental guarantees of 30 percent for five years.”

The rental guarantees were given from local businesses and entities including East Penn, Wayne County Hospital, Shivvers, Lockridge, Inc., Chariton Valley Housing Trust Fund, Wayne Community Foundation and Corydon Community Development Corporation.

“This would mean with 60 rental units the minimum of 18 would need to be rented for a period of five years and those businesses and entities would cover their portion if they didn’t reach that goal,” Daughton stated. “They have filled out those guarantees in the past with other areas and never had to use them and they don’t anticipate having to use them here either.”

The 60 units will be workforce rental housing styled units with refrigerators and kitchen ranges provided along with washer and dryer hookups in each unit. Attached garages as well as lawn care and snow removal will also be provided.

“These won’t be streets built to the housing units but rather development access roads they will build themselves whereas the Corydon city crew members won’t be responsible for snow removal,” said Daughton. “The city will only be responsible for hooking up the water to these units and collecting money for that service.”

The units will not be a typical cookie-cutter style with various options in the rental units. There will be two bedroom/one bathroom units available with 838 square feet as well as three bedroom/two bath units with 1,271 square feet. The units will likely be built in six-plex formations, with the possibility of some duplex or quad units as well.

When thinking about the addition of new housing within Wayne County brings the notions of what benefits that can mean for our local communities. The influx of traffic and money being spent in our local businesses begins the building development as out-of-town workers enter our county.

Once the units are readily available and new families move in to town, the continued spending carries on throughout the county along with the ability to fill other various employee positions within the county along with, increasing school enrollment thus increasing school finances as funding is based on enrollment sizes.

As Kading now moves forward with this project, the next step includes the site plan development and  approval of the site plan. Kading is eager to begin as they are hopeful for a potential winter start with late spring/early summer of 2022 as the back-up plan to begin grading and infastructure work with a fall goal of starting footings.

“What they have stated is once they break ground, they estimate the project to take 18-24 months to be completely done,” stated Daughton. “It could be shorter, it could be longer, but that is the approximate time they gave us.”

“With our group at WCHC, we aren’t involved financially, but our role is to facilitate and be a catalyst for the development of the housing,”

said Daughton in closing. “We hope that has been able to happen and we can see it happening on things that it wasn’t before. If it wasn’t for Kading, we would still be searching and thankfully McClure put us in connection with them to get the ball rolling.”

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