Archive for Thursday, November 16, 2006

Council to consider Cottage Woods, downtown revitalization plan

November 16, 2006

Mike McNicoll will make his pitch Thursday to the De Soto City Council for a six-home development in old-town De Soto with the same facts and figures that turned around the planning commission.

McNicoll first approached the De Soto Planning Commission in September with the Cottage Woods development on 1.2 acres on 83rd Street east of the Sunflower railroad spur. The proposal came to the planning commission as planned development zoning, which ties a site plan to the zoning and, in turn, allows the city council to consider the site plan.

The planning commission tabled the proposal in September, expressing concern about the number of homes. What turned the planning commission around last month, city planning officials said, was McNicoll's impressive presentation on the need for the type of housing the small subdivision would offer.

McNicoll said he presented market research he had done that indicated the scarcity of affordable single-family homes in De Soto. McNicoll's goal is to sell the six 1,100-square-foot homes for $150,000.

About 40 percent of the homes sold in De Soto the last three years sold for $150,000 or less, McNicoll said. But as of last month, there were only four such homes on the market compared to 38 listed for more than $150,000, he said. Put another way, there was a 12-month supply of homes of more than $150,000 on the market, but only a two-month supply of homes listed for less than that amount, he said.

To bolster his argument, McNicoll also presented statistics that showed that while home prices were rising, personal income was stagnant, especially in De Soto.

"We need more homes at cheaper prices," he said. "One way to do that is through greater density."

The goal of Cottage Woods was to make the American dream available to more people, McNicoll said. He defined that dream as having a single-family home that required a lawnmower -- something those living in townhomes don't need.

The homes will have full, unfinished basements, one-and-a-half baths and a second story under a vaulted ceiling, McNicoll said. He views them as "simple, functional and cute" starter homes for young teachers, police officers or others currently priced out of the home market.

Present zoning would allow duplexes to be built on the site, McNicoll said. And though he couldn't say with assurance the homes he hopes to build won't some day be rentals, there is a greater likelihood duplexes would be, he said.

Also on Thursday's council agenda is the final presentation by consultant Marty Shukert on downtown revitalization. Shukert was hired by the city and the De Soto Economic Development Council last year to develop a concept for the redevelopment of ol d-town De Soto from Ottawa Street east to the confluence of Kill Creek and the Kansas River.

Shukert presented a plan last month at a joint meeting of the planning commission, De Soto Parks and Recreation Commission and EDC that proposed development of agricultural land east of Morse's Market as a site for ball fields and commercial development. Among other things, it would make use of the alley south of 83rd Street between Wea and Shawnee to expand the amount of storefronts downtown and tie that area to an enhanced Miller Park and new development through landscaping and architectural features.

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