Take two for Zarah Mall housing grants

Aug. 2—To help continue the effort to bring more housing to Great Bend, the City Council Monday night approved a resolution applying for a Moderate Income Housing Grant through the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation on the behalf of Great Bend Economic Development Inc. The action was taken to develop the upper floors of the landmark downtown Zarah Hotel building.

Last September, the council OKed GBED's application. But, "we were unfortunately not successful," said GBED President Sara Hayden Monday night.

However, state officials reached out to Hayden, advising her that another, expanded, round of grants will be awarded. Still better was that priority was being given to the strongest first-round applicants, including GBED, she said.

This grant does not require the city to put in any additional funds to see the project through, Hayden said. They are proposing the city apply for these funds and allow them to be used toward the building of affordable housing in the Zarah.

There was even more good news, she said.

Because of the rapid turnaround with the grant last fall, GBED applied only for funds to develop nine moderate-income units in the building. Now, they can apply for more.

"We can finish out the property," Hayden said. Although an exact total has yet to be determined by project architects, the number of units could be between 15-17, with some for lease, some for sale and some used as a temporary, Airbnb-type unit.

The nine moderate-income units will still be included.

The medium income level is based on the Area Median Income. For Barton County, that salary ceiling is about $85,000.

They selected this building because of the number of units that will be able to be constructed, Hayden said, noting this was the only space available that met grant criteria. In all, this would be a multi-million-dollar endeavor.

The building is owned by downtown development group MyTown.

According to the KHRC, the Moderate Income Housing program serves the needs of moderate-income households that typically don't qualify for federal housing assistance. MIH grants and/or loans are awarded to cities and counties for down payment assistance or to develop multi-family rental units, single-family for-purchase homes, and infrastructure in communities with populations fewer than 60,000 people.