In 2010 the city of Newton, a community of 19,000 located 25 miles north of Wichita, conducted a housing market study. The results revealed what city officials and local residents already suspected—Newton was experiencing a housing shortage. Occupancy rates for rentals held steady at 98 percent with months-long waiting lists. The shortage of entry-level rental housing made it difficult for young professionals, young families, seniors and downsizing retirees to find homes. Companies considering locating in Newton cited the lack of housing options for new employees and took their business elsewhere.
City officials worked with KHRC to secure $400,000 in Moderate Income Housing (MIH) funds to help finance the development of 44 rental units, including 10 MIH units. The city partnered with Anderson-Crain Investment Group in McPherson to bring the project to completion. In addition to being an MIH grant recipient, the development benefitted from its designation as a Rural Housing Incentive District by the Kansas Department of Commerce. Thanks to close collaboration between city leaders, developers and housing officials, the complex celebrated its grand opening in May 2018.
At a cost of $5.5 million, the development features two 16-unit garden-style apartment buildings and six duplexes, including corporate units. It serves a broad segment of the Newton community, housing a mixed-income population of young families, single professionals and seniors. The development’s proximity to local highways, shopping and dining options, Newton Medical Center and the YMCA make it an attractive option for Newton residents, and the easy access to Wichita and a new wind farm in Marion county make it appealing for commuters and construction workers. Others are drawn to the prospect of a home with an attached, two-car garage but no maintenance or lawn care.
Cottonwood Crossing leveraged $14 for every dollar of MIH funding invested. City officials are already exploring the possibility of a second phase to expand the development as market demands increase.
“The project is incredibly successful and has helped us meet a long-standing need for affordable housing in our community,” Assistant City Manager Kelly McElroy said. “Cottonwood Crossing provides Newton residents -- both current and future -- with affordable rental housing for both the short and long term.”