A proposal for Hedge Lane Apartments in Shawnee is being presented at the Johnson County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, May 19. Sunflower Development Group and Consolidated Housing Solutions asked the council for $1 million in community support funds to help complete the project.

Hedge Developers

curators in Johnson County on Thursday approved a $1 million loan to help build an affordable housing project in Shawnee.

The measure passed 5-2 with the commissioners Charlotte O’Hara and Michael Ashcraft vote against funding.

At last week’s meeting, the County Board of Commissioners was asked to contribute $1 million in community support funds to help build the Hedge Lane Apartments in Shawnee. The project is a joint venture between Sunflower Development Group and Consolidated Housing Solutions.

The apartment complex will have 144 units and will be located on Hedge Lane Terrace. The units will likely be available for renters by next spring or summer, Jay Leipzig, director of planning, housing and community development for Johnson County, said in an interview.

Jason Swords, one of the developers, said the resort will have a swimming pool, dog-walking area and workspaces. Units will have washers and dryers.

The apartments will be designated as workforce housing, meaning those earning less than 60% of the area’s median family income will qualify. Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara confirmed at the meeting that the income cap for one person will be $40,680. For two people it will be $46,500 and $52,320 for three people.

A one-bedroom unit in Hedge Lane will cost about $1,100 and a two-bedroom would cost about $1,300, said Jessica Hotaling, deputy director of housing services in Johnson County, at last week’s meeting. . She said, however, that rental prices change every year and are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

There will be 42 one-bedroom units, 80 two-bedroom units and 22 three-bedroom units, according to developer documents.

“The developer has the low-income housing support tax credits in hand and has gone through approval processes with the City of Shawnee,” Leipzig said at the week’s county council meeting. last. “But due to inflationary pressure, labor pressure and material pressure, they have a $1 million gap for the project.”

Swords told today’s meeting that the project could not move forward without the $1 million loan.

The loan, Leipzig said, will bear no interest.

Several Johnson County residents spoke out against the loan at Thursday’s meeting, saying the county should not act as a bank for developers.

Commissioner Jeff Meyers said there was a demand for workforce housing in Johnson County that needed to be met.

“From a county perspective, I view it as a fully secured and guaranteed risk-free loan. Or if there is risk, extremely low for a county ratepayer,” Meyers said.

Others were concerned about the lack of public transit in the West Shawnee area, while others pointed to the lack of a playground for kids at the resort.

Meyers also said zoning for the complex and all of its amenities was approved at the city level before the meeting, so commissioners weren’t voting on a potential playground.

While Commissioner Becky Fast said working citizens like teachers and firefighters would potentially be eligible to live at Hedge Lane Apartments, those who made public comments disagreed.

“Let’s call it what it is: Section Eight,” said Shawnee resident Abby Rawie.

She also expressed concern that the resort’s clubhouse plans look too “vanilla” compared to the $400,000 to $600,000 homes in her neighboring neighborhood.

Leipzig said they expect to lose 349 low-income housing units across the county from 2020 to the end of 2022, and that this project will help replace some of those housing units.

According a study by United Community Services of Johnson County, nearly half of Shawnee residents spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

The cost of living in Johnson County is higher than any other county in the Kansas City area, and there are only 3-5% vacancy rates for rental properties in Shawnee, compared to 7 to 8%, which is considered healthy.

The Shawnee City Council also passed an ordinance on April 25 limiting the number of unrelated tenants living in a home to three. The decision was met with major backlash from residents who said that at one time they could only afford to live with many roommates.

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