Archive for Thursday, September 14, 2006

Six homes proposed for old-town

September 14, 2006

The lessons Mike McNicoll learned when his son went to college may soon make six new homes available in De Soto.

McNicoll, who said he is neither a developer or homebuilder, said he came to the idea of building affordable homes when his son leased an apartment in Lawrence his freshman year. When his son started looking around for something different when the lease expired, McNicoll suggested he consider buying a house if he planned to stay in Lawrence for five more years.

Although his son chose not to follow up on the suggestion, McNicoll started following the real estate market to see what was available. He found slim pickings for starter homes of about $150,000.

"What was out there was mainly 75- to 100-year-old homes that needed a lot of work," he said.

ing to follow in the footsteps of her father, a longtime employee of Sprint.

Realizing many people didn't have the time or inclination to get involved with that kind of home, McNicoll started looking for areas he could fill that niche.

He found another problem. High land prices and city regulations made building homes in the $150,000 price range very difficult. Certainly such homes could not be built in contemporary subdivisions popping up around Johnson County subject to excise taxes and numerous development fees.

McNicoll found the right circumstances in old-town De Soto, an area the city has exempted from its excise tax. In his proposed Cottage Woods, the 1.2 acres east of the railroad tracks on 83rd Street will have six lots of 5,000 square feet. The secret to getting the six homes on the property was designing the remaining property as a commons area with a common driveway, he said.

"My test if a home qualifies for the American dream is if you have to own a lawn mower," he said. "Whoever buys these homes will have a front yard, backyard and single-car garage.

"They'll be cottage-style homes -- simple, functional and cute."

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 starter homes for young teachers, police officers or others currently priced out of the home market.

De Soto City Planner Kim Buttrum said the development would fulfill an identified need in De Soto for affordable single-family homes. Although the lots would be exempt from excise tax, they would be assessed system development fees on water and sewer, she said.

McNicoll made application for planned development zoning for Cottage Woods. The special zoning classification for unique projects couples rezoning with a preliminary plat.

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